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Alumni Story – Shaun and Jennifer Star

February 12, 2015

J&SGolden Key is proud of our alumni and the amazing impact they have in their communities across the globe. Shaun and Jennifer Star are distinguished GK alumni who met while studying at Macquarie University in Australia and are now based in Delhi, India.

Shaun Star is a lawyer at a top firm in India, but has also found the time to co-found and chair the Australia-India Youth Dialogue which enhances the partnerships between the youth of the two nations. Shaun also received a Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award to go to India, was the top of his class in law school and won numerous awards and scholarships.

In 2008, Jennifer (Jen) started the non-government organisation Tara.Ed based in India. It aims to improve the quality of education in rural India by developing good teachers. Jen is also an elite athlete – representing Australia for 7 years. She was the NSW Young Australian of the Year in 2012 and last year, was named as one of Australia’s 100 most influential women and was a finalist in the NSW Women of the Year.

While as individuals their accomplishments both seem incredible, as a team they are truly unstoppable. Both Jen and Shaun were selected as one of only 75 worldwide Goldman Sachs Global Leaders, both won Golden Key scholarships and both have now studied at Oxford.

We had the chance to speak with these amazing alum:

Where did you grow up? Where do you currently live?

[Jen Star: JS] I grew up in a small country town near Bowral, NSW. Now I live in New Delhi (A city with a population that’s greater than Australia!)

[Shaun Star: SS] I grew up in Sydney and now live in New Delhi

What university did you go to? What did you study?

We both attended Macquarie University (that’s where we met).

[JS] I initially studied archaeology/ancient history, but retrained as a teacher in 2010 at the University of New England in 2010. I’ve been in the field of Education since then, studying a Masters in International Education at Oxford. I am currently doing my PhD through Deakin.

[SS] I studied law at Macquarie and did a BCL (Masters in Law) at Oxford in 2012.

When did you join Golden Key? For what reasons did you join?

[JS] I received an invite when I was studying archaeology at Macquarie…and just happened to be dating the Macquarie University Chapter President at the time…I didn’t have a choice NOT to join!

[SS] I was really involved in campus life at Macquarie University, and GK provided another opportunity for me to be involved, as I was elected Chapter President in 2008. It has provided me with so many opportunities since.

How has Golden Key influenced your career path?

[JS] I received the Golden Key Asia Pacific Community Service Award when my charity, ‘Tara.Ed’ was still in its infancy (at that stage, we only had one project in one school in India). The grant gave me financial freedom to work solely on Tara.Ed instead of having to balance a part time job alongside my other commitments. Such support at that stage of Tara.Ed’s evolution was integral to its growth and success today.

[SS] I was very involved with Golden Key at Macquarie University, and this allowed me to develop a wide range of skills (such as chairing a meeting), and connect with other young achievers the world over through the GK International Conference. I also received the GK Graduate scholar award which funded my postgraduate studies at Oxford University.

smallWhat are you doing now? What is your job title?

[JS] Founding Director of Tara.Ed, an international Education NGO that promotes sustainable, quality education in rural and remote parts of India and Bangladesh.

[SS] Foreign Qualified Legal Consultant at Amarchand Mangaldas Suresh A Shroff & Co –India’s biggest law firm. I am also Chair of the Australia-India Youth Dialogue (AIYD), a track two dialogue that brings young Indians and Australians together to develop strong people to people links and discuss issues that impact both nations.

What is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?

[Both] – Pack up our lives in Australia to move to India “for one year” (that was five years ago now…and we are still here).

Shaun teaching at AnanyaWhat is your proudest achievement?

[JS] Finishing the first six year project with Tara.Ed. Seeing that the Tara.Ed model was a success and changing lives was pretty special!

[SS] The first AIYD Conference was held in Delhi and Mumbai in 2012 and was a great success. I had brought together and worked with a great group of people – the AIYD Steering Committee – to make it happen. The conference was ultimately the culmination of 18 months of planning and hard work. Four years later, it continues to go from strength to strength!

What song represents you?

[JS] ‘Most people I know think that I’m Crazy’ by Billy Thorpe

[SS] I don’t know…perhaps ‘Star Man’ by David Bowie!?

What activities and hobbies do you take part in?

[JS] I have done the sport of judo since I was a little girl and it doesn’t matter where I am in the world, I’ll always find a judo club to practice at.

[SS] Living in India, it is hard to go past cricket. On weekends, you’ll find me on one of Delhi’s many cricket pitches!

Do you have a defining moment/incident/day that stands out?

[Both] Are we allowed to say our wedding…or is that just tacky!?

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live and why?

[Both] Definitely Delhi! There is an energy about this city that you don’t get anywhere else. We love it!

What is a fun fact about you?

[Both] In a break to tradition, Jennifer asked Shaun to marry her…and two days after the wedding, we moved to India!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

JS – When Tara.Ed had completed it’s first project and was looking to expand, we hit a few hurdles. My mentor, Oscar Trimboli, asked me a very simple question: “what does success look like?” and it really threw me!  I was so caught up in the small details that I had lost sight of where we were going. Everyone’s picture of success is different, and in order to achieve it, you have to know what it looks like. I have mentored many aspiring NGO start ups since, and this is always the first question I ask!

SS – A quote by Margaret Mead that I often revisit when searching for motivation is: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”



SPARK a Change February 2015

February 9, 2015

Sparklogo-colorGolden Key is excited to enter into our second year of SPARK a Change, our global service initiative to impact and improve the lives of at-risk youth (ages 0-17) through literacy, education and real-world preparedness. Since August 2014, chapters have dedicated 9,890 hours, touched the lives of 6,627 people and raised $2,159 towards SPARK a Change. Together we can impact the lives of youth around the globe! (Chapter leaders, please remember to record your events on the Golden Key website so we can include your accomplishments in our 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, Twitter and 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:


February Featured Service Project:

uvm_spark_500x375This month, we’d like to highlight the GK chapter at the University of Vermont. Dr. Kathleen Liang, the chapter advisor, teaches a service-learning and experiential-learning course at UVM called Introduction to Community Entrepreneurship. In the course, there is an activity called the Dollar Enterprise Program where students learn entrepreneurial procedures directly through a new-venture creation experience. Students actually learn about theories, and directly start new ventures at UVM! A team consists of 11-12 individuals get $11-$12 per team as seed money. Dollar Enterprise simulates a formation of any business in the real world from teamwork, generating resources, creating coalitions, and building community partners, to dealing with day-to-day operations, assessment, optimization, and time management.  Once the semester begins, it takes one month to prepare and apply for food permits and business details.  Each team runs their business for 4 weeks (at least 3 hours every day from Monday through Friday, between 8am to 5pm) during the semester in various pre-reserved locations on campus only. At the end of the Dollar Enterprise activities, all proceeds are donated to charity organizations. At the end of the 4-week business activity, each team concludes with a business report, financial report, self-assessment, and final team member assessment.  Each team donates all proceeds to local charities and a Community Entrepreneurship Education fund that has been established to assist future students who are interested in becoming successful Community Entrepreneurs. Since the spring of 2005, Dollar Enterprise has worked with over 20 Vermont organizations to generate more than $50,000 for more than 300 charity organizations.

2015 Society Leadership Election Results

January 12, 2015

We’re excited to announce the results of our 2015 Society elections!

International Leadership Council President
Harriet Watkins
(Term of Office: 19 July 2015 – 19 July 2018)

All other positions will start on 1 June 2015. The results for these positions are:

International Leadership Council Student Member
Bradley Mason

Council of Advisors, Asia-Pacific Representative
Verity Greenwood

Council of Advisors, Canada Representative 
Cathrine Foese-­Klassen

Council of Advisors, US Region 2 Representative 
Amanda Wilson

Council of Advisors, US Region 3 Representative 
Michael Sanseviro

Council of Advisors, US Region 8 Representative 
Kathryn Clifford

Council of Advisors, South Africa Representative
Nicole Msomi

Council of Student Members, Asia-Pacific Representative
Timothy Ng

Council of Student Members, Canada Representative
Azin Zanganeh

Council of Student Members, US Region 1 Representative
Nicole Marte

Council of Student Members, US Region 2 Representative
Jason Richards

Council of Student Members, US Region 3 Representative
Kelvin Chavez

Council of Student Members, US Region 4 Representative
Hunter Cregger

Council of Student Members, US Region 5 Representative
Zenobia Bey

Council of Student Members, US Region 6 Representative
Billy Gurr

Council of Student Members, US Region 7 Representative
To Be Determined
(Bradley Mason was elected for this position. Individuals cannot serve on the Council of Student Members and the ILC simultaneously therefore a replacement will be named for the Region 7 CoSM position.)

Council of Student Members, US Region 8 Representative
Kellie Rollins

Council of Student Members, South Africa Representative
Gillian Bain

Heting Yang Wins Golden Key’s 2015 ISLP Award

January 7, 2015

Heting_ISLPGolden Key and the International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP) recently selected Heting Yang as the winner of the 2015 ISLP Award.  The ISLP Award covers the entire cost of tuition, valued at $3,395 USD, to attend an ISLP delegation. ISLP offers 5 career-based delegations in 5 different countries in order to provide an international career perspective for university students around the world.

Yang has chosen to attend the Business & Entrepreneurship program in Australia in the summer of 2015. Highlights of the delegation include visiting a local university in Melbourne for an overview of the business climate, attending a panel session hosted by young and successful Australian entrepreneurs, visiting 3M in Sydney to learn about product development and marketing and creating and pitching an advertising plan to top ad agencies. There will also be many cultural visits and sightseeing throughout Melbourne & Sydney such as the Sydney Opera House, the Taronga Zoo, Bondhi Beach, The Rocks and Federation Square.

“Golden Key is proud to partner with ISLP on this award. We share the goal of providing international learning opportunities to students,” said Brad Rainey, Golden Key Executive Director. “Both Golden Key and ISLP are dedicated to growing and developing our members into leaders prepared for the 21st century.”

Originally from Xi’an, China, Heting Yang is currently a third year undergraduate student obtaining a bachelor of science in actuarial and financial mathematics at the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa. Yang is involved in many academic activities at the university and is also a part of the Chinese Christian Student Society. He is also involved in his local Golden Key chapter and attended the International Summit in Boston, MA in July of 2014. Upon receiving the award, Yang said, “I am privileged and honoured to be awarded such a wonderful prize in order to finally realize my dream to participate in the International Scholar Laureate Program and to explore further into the financial field… I am proud to be part of the world’s largest collegiate honor society!”

Congratulations, Heting!

GK Member Awarded New Colombo Plan Scholarship

December 9, 2014

danielWe are excited to share that Daniel Eastwood-Whitaker, Golden Key member and president of the Swinburne University of Technology GK chapter in Melbourne, Australia, has been awarded a prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarship from the Australian Government.

The New Colombo Plan is an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, initiated by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. It involves an international exchange scholarship for study of up to one year in Indo-Pacific countries and an internship for up to six months, aiming to deepen professional and personal relationships in the region, and build stronger cultural awareness. The program also offers a flexible mobility grants program for short and long-term study, internships, mentorships, clinical placements, practicums and research.

We had the chance to ask Daniel about himself and receiving this scholarship.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live on the Mornington Peninsula, approximately 1 hour south of Melbourne, Australia where I have lived for my whole life. I went to Red Hill Consolidated Primary, and graduated from the Peninsula School in 2011. I started the Bachelor of Aviation (Management) / Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) in 2012 at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia and will finish my degree in 2015. When I am not studying, I work as a supervisor at the Dromana 3 Drive In Cinema, and also as a house painter across the Mornington Peninsula.

Where are you going for the exchange program? Why did you choose this location?
I will be heading to China in mid 2015 to finish my degree, and from there I will be conducting an internship in an area of aviation or finance before my return in mid 2016. I decided to select China as my destination, among the many offered under the NCP Scholarship, for a number of reasons. My initial exposure to China was through my studies at high school of Mandarin, Chinese history and culture; this is where I developed my initial interest. Continuing my studies at Swinburne, I began to understand the importance of China’s role in the future economic growth within the region, and how important Australia – China relations would be in the present and near future. Armed with these experiences, for me China was the place to go.

When you embark on your exchange, what main activities will you be involved in?
The main goals of the New Colombo Plan are to enhance the relationships between Australia and Indo-Pacific countries by forming personal and business relationships, as well as enhancing the knowledge of the Indo-Pacific region in Australia. When in China, I aim to fulfill these goals by immersing myself in university life, as well as in the local community by engaging with the locals through various events, extracurricular activities and volunteering. My role in China is very much as an Ambassador of Australia, and I will represent the best of Australian students in every opportunity I am given.

What are you looking forward to the most?
What I look forward to the most in my experience in China is really developing an understanding of Chinese culture, history and business practices. These things can be better learned through experience, rather than in the class room. As well as visiting the big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, I will travel to regional China to gain an insight into a more traditional China. Throughout this experience I hope to make new and lasting friendships.

What knowledge and experience do you hope to bring back with you to Australia?
When I return to Australia, I hope to use what I have learned in my time in China to enhance our relationship with the Chinese people, both on a personal and professional level. I hope to gain employment when I return to Australia with an international focus within the Indo-Pacific region, where I can use my knowledge and experience from China to increase Australia – China relationships and to increase the prosperity of both of our nations.

How has Golden Key helped you achieve your potential?  
The New Colombo Plan has three key criteria when applying; demonstrated academic excellence, leadership in the community and an understanding of the NCP experience enhances their cultural awareness, employment potential and the ability to operate in new and changing environments. These NCP goals and requirements align very much with the values of Golden Key, Academics, Leadership and Service. Golden Key played a key part throughout my selection process. I used my experiences within Golden Key to prove to the NCP team at DFAT that I have what it takes to represent Australia and fulfil the goals of the NCP scholarship.

Our congratulations go out to Daniel. Feel free to contact Daniel by email at or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Spring 2014 Scholarship Winners

December 8, 2014

This week we’ve announced and highlighted the recipients of some of our biggest awards from spring of 2014: the Graduate Scholar Award winners ($10,000), the Undergraduate Achievement Award winners ($5,000), and the Education Debt Reduction Award winners ($5,000).

Today, we’re excited to display the recipients of the remaining spring 2014 headquarters awards (in no particular order) and share statements from a few of the winners. These scholarships make up part of the $1,000,000 we award annually to members.

Advisor Professional Development Grant ($1,000)

  • LaRuth Lofties, The University of Memphis, United States
  • Dahlia Stridiron, University of the Virgin Islands-St. Thomas, United States
  • Kevin Schuck, The University of Texas at Arlington, United States
  • Alicia Anino, Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, United States
  • Jennifer Walker, The University of Memphis, United States
  • Oksana Gruzdyn, Wayne State University, United States

Alumni Professional Development Grant ($1,000)

  • Marcus Robertson, Monash University, Australia
  • Anne-Kathrin Bauer, Curtin University, Australia
  • Elizabeth  Kociolek, Old Dominion University, United States
  • Vibol Mao, Flinders University, Australia
  • Lori-Ann Touchette, University of Southern Maine, United States
  • Amber Cote, University of North Texas, United States
  • Leandri Hattingh, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

leandri“I truly feel honoured and privileged to receive this scholarship. This will certainly contribute a great deal in covering my expenses for attending the 2014 Graphic Medicine Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. My attendance at the conference as a presenter promises to broaden my horizons and further develop my interest in the relationship between medicine and the arts and social sciences. I look forward to bringing back my leanings and sharing them with colleagues and other interested parties, in particular, the conveners and participants in the first ever Medicine and the Arts course in South Africa.”- Leandri Hattingh

Chartering Officer Scholarship ($1,000)

  • Nicolas Ferry, Eastern Illinois University, United States
  • Shu Ting Ooi, University Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

Ooi Shu Ting -Photo“The 2014 Chartering Officer Scholarship Award is a great honor for me, and I really appreciate the recognition of my achievements from Golden Key. Being part of the chapter’s committee, I looked forward to the opportunity to study more on social work and communication skill because I have always wanted to be able to make a difference to people’s lives. With a better communication skill I believe I can do the campus event as well as community service in a caring and supportive way. Winning this award confirmed my resolution to continue my passion in doing something different yet meaningful to people.” – Shu Ting Ooi

Community Service Award ($1,000)

  • Curwyn Mapaling, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
  • Erica Zucker, Bishop’s University, Canada

Education Development Grant ($2,000)

  • Jennifer Greer, University of Ballarat, Australia
  • Joanne Park, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Joe Dentice, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, United States

joe photo“I am both thrilled and honored to be a member of Golden Key. I have recently stepped down from being the UNLV chapter president but I look forward to remaining active as an alumni member. Serving as an officer is an experience I will cherish for a lifetime. Since taking office over a year ago one of the main selling points I stressed to potential Golden Key members were the scholarship opportunities and now I can hardly believe that I have won one myself. Winning this scholarship means more than the financial reward, it means being recognized among some of the best and brightest college students in the world.” – Joe Dentice

Emerging Scholar Award ($1,000)

  • Michelle Gooel, The University of Michigan, United States
  • Nathan Arnaiz, University of Miami, United States
  • Derek Menzies, Cleveland State University, United States

GEICO Life Scholarship ($1,000)

  • Errick Placide, Arizona State University, United States
  • Lisa Carter, University of South Australia, Australia
  • Jade Cera Guy, McGill University, Canada
  • Kevin Shin, University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States
  • John Phelps, Wright State University, United States

Living The Mission Award ($1,000)

  • Kelsey Byrne, The University of New Mexico, United States
  • Kathleen Seddon, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
  • Jean Vianney Cordeiro, McGill University, Canada

Jean Photo“I am humbled and at the same time overcome with joy for being selected as a recipient of the Living the Mission Scholarship. By awarding me a scholarship, Golden Key lightened my financial burden which allowed me to focus more on the most important aspect of school, learning. Golden Key’s generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as Golden Key has helped me. Investing in youth is investing in the future of our planet.” – Jean Vianney Cordeiro

Military Service Scholarship ($1,000)

  • Gregory Rutledge, The University of Winnipeg, Canada
  • Stéphanie Paquette, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Dawn Knasas, University of Southern California, United States
  • David Beach, Ashford University, United States
  • Edward Krohn, American Public University System, United States

Edward Krohn“Being selected as the 2014 Military Service Scholarship Award honoree allows me to validate my efforts of balancing full-time graduate school, having a full-time civilian job, meeting my military obligations, as well as coaching public speaking. Without each of these experiences, I would not be the individual I am today. Receiving this award also allows me to breathe easier knowing that I am able to continue my education without having to accept and repay student loans. Furthermore, I am able to resoundingly affirm to my students that hard-work and discipline leads to success.”  -Edward Krohn

Outstanding Advisor Award ($1,000)

  • Emily Luker, University of Wisconsin Madison, United States
  • Kevin Schuck, The University of Texas at Arlington, United States
  • Mary Myers, Cleveland State University, United States

Outstanding Student Member Award ($1,000)

  • DaSom Lee, California State University, San Bernardino, United States
  • Katrina Notarmaso, The College of New Jersey, United States
  • Crystal Sims, California State University, Sacramento, United States
  • Shannon Nicholson, West Virginia University, United States
  • Siinya Edmondson, University of Missouri-St. Louis, United States

Research Grant ($1,000)

  • Shao Wei Chia, The University of Michigan, United States
  • Amirhoushang Jamshidi, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Margaret Lundberg, University of Washington Tacoma, United States
  • Julie Fleischman, Michigan State University, United States
  • Colin Phifer, University of Hawaii at Manoa, United States
  • Victor Krawczyk, The University of South Australia, Australia
  • Nimra Jamil, Towson University, United States
  • Yujin Li, McMaster University, Canada
  • Emily Hooker, The University of Kansas, United States
  • Jeffrey Skidmore, Brigham Young University, United States

jeff photo“I am sincerely grateful for being awarded the 2014 Research Grant-Spring Selection. This grant aided me in traveling to the International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Hong Kong, China without placing significant financial burden on my young family. While there I was able to interact with the world experts in my area of research – rehabilitation robotics. This experience gave new insights into my research and enhanced my pursuit of a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering.” – Jeffrey Skidmore

Study Abroad Scholarship ($1,000)

  • Jessica Ginberg, Monash University, Australia
  • Nicole Hillyard, Queensland University of Technology, Australia
  • Liza Beaulieu, Concordia University, Canada
  • David Houston, Towson University, United States
  • Huibrecht Hester Johanna van Eeden, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Nathaniel Tumblin, The Ohio State University, United States
  • Floyd Kenney, Youngstown State University, United States
  • Rafael Almario, Florida State University, United States
  • Rachel DeGraaf, University of Alberta, Canada
  • Lucy Bennett, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Lucy Head Shot“Winning the Golden Key 2014 Spring Study Abroad Scholarship was a great honour and will further my career opportunities immensely. The financial support will assist me in my study in Canada and provide further incentive to gain international experience. I believe that this will assist me in pursuing a leadership role in the Urban Development sector in Queensland after graduating. Overall, this scholarship has inspired me to continue to strive for excellence and take every opportunity available, both within Australia and overseas.” – Lucy Bennett

Congratulations to the winners!

Don’t forget to apply for our Fall 2014 Scholarships before the 1 October 2014 deadline!

The full listing is found here:



Spring 2014 Education Debt Reduction Winners

December 8, 2014

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 Spring 2014 scholarship, who are awarded $5,000 USD each.

The recipients (in no particular order) are:

  • Jason Heap, Walden University, United States
  • Linda Moore, University of New England, United States
  • Sarah-Kate Hawkins, Walden University, United States
  • Lynda Charles, University of Central Florida, United States
  • Eric Barber, Ashford University, United States

Congratulations to the winners!

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

JasonDHeap Image for Golden Key“I am very appreciative to the Golden Key International Honour Society for awarding me with a debt reduction scholarship. It has come at a very crucial moment in my career where I have just completed a doctoral degree, but the very nature of the project within that capstone project requires me to continue with the work that I began with my participants. I had some difficult decisions to make as to how I could dedicate extra funding of my own towards the continued work of this project, in addition to fulfilling requirements of student loans.” – Jason Heap

Lynda Photo“This award is not simply financial but rather a testament to a truth I have accepted: this life is difficult but not impossible. I believe difficulty and adversity are truly opportunities and blessings in disguise – how we allow them to shape and influence our perceptions means the difference between someone who settles for what the conditions life has to offer versus someone who manifests their conditions.” – Lynda Charles



Don’t forget to apply for our Fall 2014 Scholarships before the 1 October 2014 deadline!

The full listing is found here:



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