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Alumni Story – Andrew Martin

April 20, 2015

20090123_portrait_martin_color.jpgGolden Key members go on to have success in a variety of industries and disciplines. Andrew Martin is a filmmaker who has started his own production company. His passion for animation is evident through the success of his debut film, Gus. Andrew directed, wrote and produced Gus (2010), which has since scooped up a number of national (Australia) and international awards. Andrew is currently working on his second short film, Levare. He hopes to continue working in animation to produce feature films for mature audiences. We had the chance to speak with Andrew and find out a little bit more about him.

  1. Where did you grow up? Where do you currently live?
    I grew up in Mackay, a small town halfway up the Queensland coast. I currently live in Brisbane.
  1. What university did you go to and what did you study?
    I studied at the Queensland University of Technology. I studied Fine Arts, with a focus on computer graphics, visual effects and animation.
  1. When did you join Golden Key and for what reasons?
    I joined Golden Key the year after I graduated. I was invited to join as my academic performance was deemed good enough to grant me membership. It is nice to be associated with a community of high achievers.
  2. What are you doing now? What is your job title?
    Among several part-time jobs, such as teaching in my field, I run my own animation company. I produce a wide range of computer graphics services, but my focus is on producing my own animated films. I have completed one animated short film, which won several awards, and I am currently in production of a second. While I consider myself an animator, I would be considered a generalist by the industry. My main interest, however, is in writing and directing, so that is where much of my effort goes when I am not doing bread and butter work.
  3. What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?
    When I was a child, my father was an aerobatics pilot. On weekends, when he would train for competitions, I would often go along for the ride. I would take my place in the passenger seat and enjoy perhaps the greatest roller coaster any 11 year-old could imagine.
  4. What is your proudest achievement?
    My first animated short film, Gus. It took 7 years out of my life, but when it was finished it screened at festivals all over the world and received 12 award nominations, and won 9 of them. If, however, a career could be summarised as a restaurant dining experience, Gus would be an appetiser. I’m currently working on the entrée, and I can’t wait to serve the main course!
  5. What motivates you? What is the best advice you’ve ever heard?
    I love what I do. After completing Gus, I experienced the aftermath of doing what I love, and it suits me. I know I want to keep doing it; I just need the means to keep going until I have the opportunity to produce a feature-length animated film.
    I cannot recall any specific advice I have been given, nor who may have given it. I do, however, believe in working hard, working smart, and having fun. I also live to keep things simple.
  6. What activities and hobbies do you take part in?
    I have been a casual student of ballroom and Latin dancing for several years. I like to travel, and I am keen on snow sports; I ski and snowboard whenever I get a chance to find some snow.
  7. Do you have a defining moment/incident/day that stands out?
    Winning a “Silver Yowie” at the Blue Mountains Film Festival in 2011. It was my first award for Gus, and my first filmmaking award ever.
  8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?
    I am very comfortable right here in Australia, but if I had to choose somewhere else, I think perhaps England would suit me. The English culture appeals to me, and being so close to Europe and North America, it would be little effort to pop over to some of the greatest places in the world, and perhaps a snowy mountain or two.
  9. What is a fun fact about you?
    I am very fond of classic cars, and while it is not strictly a classic, I own a 1976 VW Golf, which is in remarkably good condition for its age. I like to take it for a drive on a weekend morning up Mount Glorious. There is a café at the top, with a beautiful view. It is the perfect pit stop before driving back down to reality.

SPARK a Change April 2015

April 15, 2015

As of 1 April, chapters have dedicated 12,872 hours, touched the lives of 9,176 people and raised $2,368.51 towards SPARK a Change since its launch in July 2014. These collective actions are impacting the lives of youth around the globe! (Chapter leaders, please remember to record your events on the Golden Key website promptly after the event so we can include your accomplishments in our monthly statistics.)

Follow SPARK a Change on social media. Each month, Headquarters will be posting a challenge and a contest for SPARK a Change. Be sure to follow Golden Key on Facebook and Twitter as well as SPARK on Instagram for articles on the benefits of volunteering and posts featuring great SPARK events. If you think your chapter has a great event, please email your event details and pictures to:

April Featured Service Project:

AidelaideThis month, we’d like to highlight the GK chapter at the University of Adelaide. The chapter has formed a successful partnership with the Australian Government’s Department for Education and Child Development (DECD) to pair Golden Key members with Year 11 and 12 students at Woodville High School. The Golden Key mentors offer academic help to students and motivate them to achieve success. They also offer advice on attending University, and guide the students in making plans before they graduate. Many of these students need extra support in building confidence to embrace these opportunities, and the volunteers aim to fill that gap.

The initiative was started by Annabel Jansen (Community Service Officer) in 2014, who worked tirelessly to nurture it into the successful program it has become. Over the past year, volunteers have spent an hour per week at Woodville High School, mentoring one on one with students allocated to them according to shared academic strengths and interests. The program is continuing in 2015 and hopes to see even more enthusiastic volunteers participating in this worthwhile cause.

2015 Chicago Regional Summit

April 7, 2015

—This post was written by Ashley Brinkman, vice president of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh chapter of Golden Key, and Allie Fowee, an officer of the Eastern Kentucky University chapter—

The Region 5 Summit was held in Chicago, Illinois from March 13-15, 2015. It took place in the beautiful Embassy Suites hotel, which was located right in downtown Chicago. After everyone settled in on Friday, we met in the banquet hall for the opening session. The night was filled with welcoming attendees, popular cheers from each university, and a t-shirt exchange. After meeting other chapters, participating in ice-breakers, and receiving information about the city, we were ready to unlock our potential the next day. No one left the welcoming ceremony without a new friend!


Chicago4On Saturday, we woke up and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast provided by the hotel. Once our stomachs were filled and we had our caffeine fix for the morning we were motivated and ready to learn through the different workshops that were provided. Each individual was able to choose workshops to attend during each of the four sessions. Workshops allowed individuals to learn and collaborate with others. Through the workshops we bounced ideas and helpful tips off of one another to bring back to our individual chapters. The speakers in these workshops were extremely helpful in providing great information on topics anywhere from stress management to professional development. “Regardless of which workshop you participated in, your personal and professional development were sure to be enhanced. As the Social Director of my chapter, I attended the web-based workshops. We covered everything from ePortfolios to Facebook!” Allie said.

Once the workshops came to an end, we enjoyed some leisure time to explore the city. Some of us relaxed by having a nice lunch next to the Chicago River (which was dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day!), while others walked and shopped on the Magnificent Mile.

Chicago5                    Chicago1

Chicago7Reconvening later that night as a large group, we enjoyed a Chicago style dinner, fancy dessert and listened to an inspiring speech by keynote speaker, Adam Cox. Chicago6Adam is passionate in human development and in helping others to set and accomplish their individual goals and visions. He is a visionary who believes in “embracing the journey rather than focusing on the destination.”

Chicago2For our final activity, we divided up into groups to share our Golden Key experiences with one another. After exchanging contact information with our new friends, we said our goodbyes and left the summit ready to bring our new knowledge and inspiration back to our individual chapters. Overall, the Regional Summit was an incredible and strengthening experience!

“Although my university is not a part of Region 5, I felt more than welcome at the 2015 Chicago Regional Summit, and I am so grateful I had the opportunity to attend!” Allie said.

“I left this event with motivation to further accomplishments not only in our Golden Key chapter but also in my personal future and professional career,” Ashley said.

2015 Denver Regional Summit

March 31, 2015

—This post was written by Billy Gurr, the Golden Key Council of Student Members representative for US Region 6 and a chapter president at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Kellie Rollins, the Golden Key Council of Student Members representative for US Region 8 and officer at the University of California, Los Angeles chapter—

Denver5Golden Key’s Regional Summit in Denver, Colorado got underway on March 6, 2015, for members in US Regions 6 & 8 and attendees from other regions joined as well. Delegates arrived at the Embassy Suites in Downtown Denver and walked the short distance to Metropolitan State University Denver on the Auraria Campus. Regional Summit got off to a great start with the officer and advisor round tables. Officers brainstormed issues regarding chapter performance and discussed tactics to resolve them. At these meetings, officers and advisors got to interact with one another sharing ideas with themselves and their region’s leadership. After the round tables, students went over to the Tivoli student union to play games and enjoy snacks while getting to know one another.

Saturday morning started bright and early with a headquarters update led by Executive Director Brad Rainey, Region 6 Associate Director John Dingfelder, and Region 8 Associate Director Melissa Decell. Next students and advisors enjoyed the first common session of the day led by MSU Denver CFO Steve Kreidler. During this workshop, Golden Key leaders learned about the four frames of an organization. The session brought to light the necessity of making sure you address the various frames in order to ensure our chapters are positioned for success within our university systems.

Denver4After lunch, the Summit delegates broke off and attended a workshop of their choosing. Workshops included communication ideas, crowd funding, time management skills, adaptive leadership theory, and finding your color.

Coming back together for the next common session, students got to learn about emotional intelligence from Matt Steinkamp. During this session, students took a test and learned about the strong and weak parts of their emotional intelligence. Matt then taught everyone skills to help them be better aware of their own and others’ emotions.

The last event during the afternoon was the service project for SPARK a Change. This year attendees worked with Courageous Creativity to put together craft kits. These kits are going to be distributed to youth in the Denver Metro area via after school programs and weekend meal programs. Courageous Creativity wants to provide these students will an outlet to express themselves when our world is inundated with inputs. For the founders of this organization, creativity does not come with a price tag and they want to share the world.

Denver3    Denver1

Later that night, everyone reconvened at St. Cajetan’s for dinner and a special guest speaker, Jonathon Stalls, who talked about his journey across the United States on foot and the lessons he learned from this. The dinner provided a nice time to hear an inspirational story and reflect on how we all should try to reach for what we want, even if it seems impossible.

Sunday morning everyone gathered one last time for the closing session with Harriet Watkins,  the International Leadership Council President, who charged attendees to strive for our own greatness, and to spread awareness of Golden Key in our communities.



2015 New Orleans Regional Summit

March 27, 2015

—This post was written by Bradley Mason, the Golden Key Council of Student Members representative for US Region 7 and a chapter officer at Mississippi State University —

NOLA1Golden Key paraded into New Orleans, LA for the Regional Summit (US Regions 3 and 7) on Friday, February 27th. Members stayed in the heart of the Big Easy at the Hilton Garden Inn, within walking distance of all the main attractions. Students from the participating regions were able to network with other leaders, serve the community, and learn effective personal development and chapter advancement skills.

NOLA2The Golden Key Regional Summit started with a high-energy opening session featuring Dr. Mari Ann Callais. Dr. Callais has held a variety of leadership roles, including program coordinator for Student Affairs at Mississippi State University and the Past National President of her sorority Theta Phi Alpha. She now works for Campus Speak, talking to college leaders across the country about the benefits of social leadership and serving others. It was not all business, however, as Dr. Callais brought her guitar and gave attendees the chance to sing along to classic songs with New Orleans roots. The night ended with samples of king cake and Zapp’s Chips, as well as the Advisor Reception and city exploration.

NOLA3Saturday started bright and early at a buffet breakfast and the Opening Session, where everyone was introduced to the SPARK a Change initiative for the day. Breakfast featured William Stoudt, Executive Director of Youth Rebuilding New Orleans, as a special guest. William discussed his life experiences as well as shared the hardships being faced in the New Orleans community. Everyone was able to leave the breakfast feeling inspired to help others and “spark a change.” From there everyone chose a service project and broke off to complete one of the tasks: creating anti-bullying posters, making creative bookmarks or creating vocabulary flash cards. Those participating in the service project helped to change the lives of youth in New Orleans, and the impact will be incredible.

Development workshops throughout the day covered topics from Interview Etiquette to Organizational Leadership to Chapter Event Strategies. Both advisors and students led these and the content was useful for everyone who attended. This provided students with a great opportunity to connect and learn from each other and even hear some innovative ideas for their home chapters.


Closing Session proved to be an unforgettable experience as we left the hotel and headed to the House of Blues. A great dinner was prepared and Sareena Helton, the Region 7 Associate Director, took on the role of DJ for the night. After eating, laughing and connecting with all of our new friends, the music began and attendees danced to modern hits and classics.  At the end of dinner and dancing, people went to explore the Big Easy under the stars, and Regional Summit came to a close.

NOLA6The 2015 Golden Key Regional Summit in New Orleans provided attendees with the opportunity to learn, serve and network. The lessons, impacts and friendships that we experienced will change our lives and affect our chapters forever. We are excited to finish this semester strong and rejuvenated thanks to Regional Summit, and we are glad to have had the opportunity to learn in New Orleans!


New Associate Director Spotlight: Britt Kastner

March 25, 2015

brittWe are excited to welcome a new Associate Director to the Golden Key team! Our Associate Directors are the liason between headquarters and the chapters on campus. Britt Kastner is the new Associate Director for US Region 3. Get to know her better with this Q&A.

Where are you from/ where did you grow up? I have moved all over the US, about every 2-3 years. I “claim” St. Louis, Missouri as my hometown because that’s where my parents and extended family were born and raised and still reside. I’ve lived in multiple towns/cities in Illinois, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Denver, Atlanta, and Nashville, and have been back in Atlanta for two years now.

Where did you go to college? I went to college at Eastern Illinois University, and graduated from Kennesaw State.

What did you study in school/ major in? I have a Bachelor of Science in Communication, with a minor in Professional Writing.

What are some of the things you were involved in, in college? I was involved with Delta Zeta sorority at Eastern Illinois.

What are your hobbies? I have a lot of hobbies. I try to stay active with working out, hiking, and pretty much anything that gets me outside when it’s nice! I like to be creative- I love to paint. I like to refinish/distress furniture and dabble in designing and constructing swimwear and apparel. I blog. I write. I love to read. I try to travel as much as possible (not enough!).

What is your favorite sport? My favorite sport is volleyball. I’ve played on school and club teams since 5th grade.

What excites you the most about working at Golden Key? What excites me the most about working with Golden Key is getting to build relationships with people all over the country and work together to make a positive impact. Everyone at GK is friendly, excited, and proud to be here, and it certainly rubs off on you as a new addition to the team.

Fun Fact?  I have a background working on global guerilla marketing teams for Red Bull North America and Muscle Milk. I spent most of my college work life driving around in a Mini Cooper or a Jeep Wrangler meeting new people and spreading the love. It was an awesome experience that I was lucky to have, and so much fun!

You can also connect with Britt on Facebook.

Scholarship Winner Highlight: Sharon Drye

March 23, 2015

Sharon Head ShotSharon Drye, a graduate student member from the University of South Alabama, got a big surprise when she found out she was one of the recipients of Golden Key’s 2014 Education Debt Reduction Award for $5,000. Last month, she got an even bigger surprise… GEICO was doubling her scholarship amount and she was getting an extra $5,000 toward the repayment of her student loans!

Let’s go back to 2010, when Sharon decided to make a big change in her life.

After working for twenty-six years in the architecture industry, Sharon lost her job. This instance combined with some personal obstacles during the same time, led Sharon to make a change. Having never earned her bachelor’s degree, she decided to go back to school to further her interest in the health field and have better job security in the future. She enrolled in Middle Tennessee State University and eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with minors in behavioral neuroscience and communication disorders.

Next Sharon enrolled in graduate school at the University of South Alabama where she is currently pursuing a degree in audiology. Sharon has a passion for helping people and found a field that she can make a difference in. With her excellent grades, Sharon was invited to join Golden Key last summer. She was excited to join as she strongly relates to Golden Key’s three pillars of academics, leadership and service, and she was very excited for professional development opportunities through Golden Key. “My membership in this organization has empowered me to remain actively committed and further shaped my professional future,” Sharon told us.

While working to obtain her education, Sharon was met with financial struggles. In addition to taking out her own student loans for her undergraduate degree at Middle Tennessee, she had to defer a loan previously taken to pay for her daughter’s first year of college. As a full time student, she had drawn from her retirement to meet her living expenses and after a few years, it was completely exhausted. When she started at the University of South Alabama, she again had to take out money—this time for out-of-state tuition. She worked nights and weekends to hold her over, but her financial situation remained difficult. Through it all, however, Sharon remained determined to finish her degree and to become involved on campus and in the community.

Sharon has a part time job working between two hospitals where she tests babies for hearing loss. She is also a member of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Student Academy of Audiology, where she serves her community with several events, such as volunteering in preparation for the 2012 NSSLHA Conference, the Special Kids Race and Christmas Tree Decorating at the Community Care of Rutherford County. As an undergraduate at Middle Tennessee State University, she was also involved in local community hearing screenings for children and educating others about hearing loss at university health fairs. Through her course work and clinical experiences at graduate school, she is conducting diagnostic hearing and vestibular assessments and learning how to manage those impairments.

Once she found out that she was a Golden Key scholarship winner, Sharon was thrilled! “I didn’t know how I was going to finish what I started,” she said. “This scholarship blessed me so much.” Sharon plans to finish her degree in audiology and her externship by May of 2017 and hopes to work for an ENT where she can serve adults with hearing and balance disorders. It is important to Sharon to one-day give back to others who are hoping to do what she is doing—going back to school to further their dreams.

“Words cannot express the depth of gratitude I have to Golden Key International Honour Society and GEICO for recognizing my academic achievement and investing in my education by awarding me with a 2014 Education Debt Reduction Scholarship,” Sharon said. “The decision to return to school as a non-traditional student has certainly come with its share of sacrifices and financial struggles as there are so many other obligations acquired by this point in life. Higher education can be one of life’s long and costly journeys, but this monetary award has greatly alleviated the financial burden associated therein.”

Congratulations, Sharon from all of us at Golden Key HQ!



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