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Fall 2014 Education Debt Reduction Award Winners

May 20, 2015

Golden Key’s scholarship recipients embody the pillars for which Golden Key stands and we are delighted to assist them in making their dreams a reality. We realize that many college students today require assistance repaying the investment they have made in their education. We are committed to helping members further their education and academic pursuits, so we created the Education Debt Reduction Award, which assists members with repayment of student loans. We are excited to announce the winners of the Fall 2014 scholarship.

The recipients (in no particular order), who are awarded $5,000 USD each, are:

  • Caleb Ballard, Northeastern University, United States
  • Jerome Burnett, Howard University, United States
  • Willem De Beer, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Yitta Reich, McGill University, Canada
  • Arun Looman, Southern Cross University, Australia
  • Vasilka Chergarova, Florida International University, United States
  • April Derrick, Arkansas State University, United States
  • Leonard Moscatelli, Seton Hall University, United States
  • Lasse Jepsen, Syracuse University, United States
  • Doraine de Beer, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • John Cummings, Arkansas State University, United States

And, this year we had a special award where one winner received $10,000 USD:

  • Sharon Drye, University of South Alabama, United States

Congratulations to the winners!

Here’s what two of the winners had to say upon receiving the award…

jerome“I am honored to be a 2014 Education Debt Reduction Scholarship winner. This is truly a blessing. It further proves that the Golden Key International Honor Society is committed to its members. It demonstrates their willingness to go above and beyond to ensure that their members succeed beyond graduation. I am proud to be a member of this organization and look forward to being a part of Golden Key in the future.” – Jerome O. Burnett

Arun Looman Web“I am sincerely honoured and grateful to receive the 2014 Golden Key Education Debt Reduction Scholarship. During my past four years of undergraduate studies I put every effort into maintaining the highest level of academic achievement possible, securing two science degrees (one medical and one environmental), a university medal, and an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) scholarship to continue my research at Southern Cross University (SCU) as a PhD student. To me, receiving this award means more time in the lab and in the field furthering our understanding of the global terrestrial-aquatic carbon cycle, and less time working to keep on top of my accumulated student debt. I have found my Golden Key Chapter to be supportive and informative, and I am thankful for the recognition and motivation provided by my peers. I am confident that receiving this award will produce better outcomes not only for my future academic endeavours, but also for the future health of humankind and our greater environment.” Arun Looman

Want to become a scholarship winner? Well you have to apply first! The full listing is found here:

2015 GKIS Keynote Speaker Spotlight: Michael Crossland

May 14, 2015

Crossland, Michael Nov 12 High Res.jpgGolden Key is thrilled to have two remarkable people as our keynote speakers at the 2015 International Summit in Surfers Paradise, Australia.  Our speaker at the Opening Session is Michael Crossland.

Michael Crossland is an extraordinary young man who has endured almost seven years of his life in hospitals. He has defied the overwhelming odds of life threatening cancer, 3rd degree burns to nearly his entire body and a severe heart attack all before his 13th birthday. An accomplished businessman and an elite baseball player, he’s built a life of exceptional achievements. His inspirational story of overcoming adversity ‘one smile at a time’ is pertinent to us all in the workplace, community and our lifestyle choices. A natural communicator and dynamic speaker, Michael moves, motivates and entertains his audiences. His love of life and approach to living it to the fullest with an attitude of humility and determination is infectious. Michael is at the forefront of today’s new generation of inspirational speakers.

Diagnosed with aggressive life threatening cancer before his first birthday doctors told him school and sport were not options. Infection and fatigue were too great a risk. His only wish was to lead a normal life and be able to do all the things that other kids took for granted every day.

Now, an accomplished businessman, Australian of the Year finalist, Australia Day Ambassador, Camp Quality Ambassador and international hall of fame inductee, Michael inspires many people from all walks of life with his story and inspiration of believing in yourself and achieving the impossible dreams. Michael has an absolute passion and belief in people’s ability to change direction and become who they truly want to be and achieve success.

As one of Australia’s most sought after inspirational speakers Michael has defied the odds of a life threatening cancer to build his life of exceptional achievements. Along with his award winning program about his life on Australian Stories, Michael was recently featured in a humanitarian documentary about the countless lives saved through his orphanage and school in Haiti.

We’re excited to have Michael help us officially kick off International Summit this July! Find out more about the International Summit at

2015 GKIS Keynote Speaker Spotlight: Simon Griffiths

May 12, 2015

simon43Golden Key is thrilled to have two remarkable people as our keynote speakers at the 2015 International Summit in Surfers Paradise, Australia.  Our speaker at the Closing Gala is Simon Griffiths, an engineer and economist turned social entrepreneur.

In 2007, after turning down his dream job offer as a corporate high-flyer, Simon moved from Australia to South Africa to immerse himself in his true passion: development aid. There he discovered that the biggest problem faced by NGOs and social entrepreneurs is a lack of funding. Since then he has launched three social businesses of his own, all focused on revolutionizing the way society thinks about and engages in philanthropy.

Simon’s latest venture is an ethical home products company. Its flagship product is Who Gives A Crap, an environmentally friendly toilet paper that uses 50% of its profits to build toilets in the developing world. Watch this hilarious video about Who Gives A Crap:

Simon is also well known for his work as co-founder of Shebeen, Australia’s first non-profit bar. Shebeen sells exotic beer and wine from the developing world with the profit from each sale supporting a project in that particular drink’s country of origin. His work has been covered by The Standford Social Innovation Review and The New York Times. In 2010 he became Australia’s first Fellow of The Unreasonable Institute, in 2011 he was recognized by The Age’s Melbourne Magazine as one of Melbourne’s Top 100 Most Influential People, and in 2013 he was shortlisted for Young Australian of the Year.

We can’t wait to hear Simon speak at the Golden Key 2015 International Summit! Find out more about the International Summit at

SPARK a Change May 2015

May 6, 2015

As of 1 May, chapters have dedicated 16,408 hours, touched the lives of 13,417 people and raised $3,665.66 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:

May Featured Service Project:

This month, we’d like to highlight the GK chapter at Queensland University of Technology. They have created a partnership with Yeronga State High School where they send volunteers weekly to participate in classes and help students with their work in a number of subjects. Yeronga State High School is an award winning multicultural school, with a wider range of cultures than any other school in Brisbane. As a majority of students come from refugee backgrounds, Yeronga has implemented an ‘English as a Second Language and Dialect Program’. This program requires volunteers to deliver a helping hand in classrooms for one on one based tutoring with English Comprehension.

The Golden Key QUT Chapter has had the privilege to play an active role in participating, and raising awareness for the program, as the chapter’s ongoing initiative over the last few years. Head of Special Education Services, Jessica Walker, and Volunteer Coordinator Enija Neskovic, have been a welcome presence at QUT’s last two New Member Receptions, and were deservedly made Honorary Members last year. They hope to continue this partnership over the years to follow.

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.


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