The University of Central Florida chapter of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) has received an award for their outstanding youth service program.

The program, called PACE – Planning to Achieve Collegiate Excellence, is a student-run mentoring program established by NSCS that encourages middle and high school students to excel in school and aspire to attend college.

The program was created in 1996 and is one of the most successful NSCS programs. In the 2008-2009 school year, nearly 4,000 high school and middle school students participated in the PACE program at chapters across the country, inspiring them to pursue college through high school and beyond.

The “Ace of PACE” award was created to honor those chapters who have established exemplary PACE programs. Five “Ace of PACE” awards were earned during the 2009-2010 academic year.

On Saturday, March 20, 2010, twenty-one elementary school children came to the University of Central Florida campus for the mentoring event. The children ranged in age from first grade to fifth grade. They are all from the low-income area of Orlando and participate in the Outreach Love tutoring program with which the NSCS PACE program has partnered.

The students took a tour of the campus and listened to speeches given by NSCS members, played games and participated in activities related to college and “reaching for the stars” – the day’s theme.

The chapter, run by president Cali Eckler, claimed their award during the 2010 NSCS Leadership Summit in June. For Sherice Evans, the NSCS Regional Manager who worked with the UCF chapter, the win came as no surprise.

“The UCF chapter held one of the most creative, fun and most importantly educational events I’ve seen,” said Evans. “In addition to the Outreach Love event they also do a lot of tutoring and had a great assembly about why college is important. They are a really impressive chapter and take the PACE program and helping children very seriously.”

In addition to the Ace of PACE award, the chapter also went home with the coveted Platinum STAR award. This award is presented to only the most active and engaged top tier of NSCS chapters.

STAR awards are earned by meeting pre-determined requirements set in place by the national office, platinum being the highest with gold, silver and bronze STAR status following. Only 5 NSCS chapters earned the Platinum STAR award for the 2009-2010 academic year.

For earning the Platinum STAR award, the UCF chapter received a $500 Chapter Scholarship, an advertisement in the campus newspaper and letter to UCF’s President recognizing the chapter’s accomplishments.

The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (NSCS) is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies and is the nation’s only interdisciplinary honors organization to invite first- and second-year college students. Membership is by invitation only, based on grade point average and class standing. NSCS has more than 750,000 members and more than 270 chapters in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.