Mother and daughter receive honor on same day

These days, it’s not unusual to see people walking around campus with brightly colored, vibrant Seminole Indian jackets. These are the new tappees of the Iron Arrow Honor Society, the highest honor attained at the University of Miami. Founded in 1926 one month after UM opened, the society honors individuals who exemplify the five qualities of Iron Arrow: character, leadership, scholarship, humility, and love of alma mater.

The most recent tapping on Nov. 4 was doubly special for one family. Aruna Airan, who works at the University Center as financial affairs administrator, and her daughter, Ritu, a third year law student, both got tapped for Iron Arrow on the same day.

“I was shocked and surprised because you never think you are going to get an honor like that,” Mrs. Airan said. “It was a good feeling.”

Mrs. Airan has worked at the University for 23 years. She is the advisor of the Indian Students Association and the Hindu Student’s Council, and has received many accolades and recognition from the University throughout the years. Among her awards are Council of International Students and Organizations Advisor of the Year, Committee on Student Organizations Advisor of the Year, a Laurel Award, and Student Affairs Outstanding Service Award.

“I was actually thinking ‘I wish they tapped my daughter instead of me,'” Mrs. Airan said. “Then I found out she got tapped as well and I was really happy.”

Her daughter was equally surprised about the tapping.

“It’s surprising, but it’s exciting also because it’s an honor and it’s good to know that someone else is recognizing the work that you do,” Ms. Airan said.

Ms. Airan went to UM for her undergraduate studies and returned to the University for law school. She is project chair for ‘Canes Angels, which this year will provide holiday gifts for approximately 500 kids, and VITA, Volunteer income tax assistance. She is also a member of Miami Law Women and Society of Bar and Gavel, the highest honor attained at the Law School.

“It’s nice to know that they planned it so that both of us could be tapped together and go through this together,” Ms. Airan said. “I’m glad they finally tapped my mom. I think it was way overdue.”

This isn’t the first mother-daughter Iron Arrow tapping. In the spring ’99 semester, Shannon Saumell, captain of the UM Sunsations, and her mother Linda, who worked in the Academic Development Center, were tapped together.

Initiation for new tappees will be on Nov. 20.

Megha Garg can be contacted at