Golden Key 2014 International Summit: Recap

BE DRIVEN, You Hold The Key. This was the theme of our 2014 International Summit and it rang true for all of the superb attendees who have the drive and potential to make an impact not only in their communities, but also on the world.

The 2014 International Summit was held at the beautiful Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel in Boston, MA from 31 July to 3 August. With more than 700 members, advisors, alumni, partners and friends attending from all over the world, this International Summit was a not-to-miss event! We would like to send a big thanks to GEICO, our International Summit Presenting Sponsor, without whom this event would not have been possible.

Before Summit was officially kicked off, attendees that came early had the opportunity to go on tours of Boston area sites led by local Golden Key members and HQ staff.  The group that went on Tuesday, 29 July, visited the Freedom Trail, Massachusetts “New” State House, Faneuil Hall and the Museum of Science.  The Wednesday group went to the New England Aquarium and had the chance to explore Harvard, the square, the university itself and their museum of natural history.  One participant said, “I loved the pre-tour! It was a wonderful chance to get to see the city, and get to meet fellow Golden Key members. I would definitely do it again, and I would recommend the pre-tour to others.”

1Thursday, 31 July was the first day of the conference. The delegates arrived throughout the day and visited the on-site registration for their name badges, conference goodies and t-shirts.  Then it was time to officially welcome everyone at our conference kick-off, the Opening Session!

Opening Session started off with a flag processional with members from each of the countries where Golden Key is present.  The Boston Police Gaelic Column Bagpipe band, a tradition to many local Bostonians, led the processional. Next Brad Rainey, Golden Key Executive Director, welcomed all attendees and played a video that recapped all of the wonderful accomplishments of our chapters over the past two years. Next, it was time for our keynote speech. Golden Key member A’kena LongBenton from Wayne State University won the opportunity to welcome keynote speaker Ethan Zohn.

1623597_430929543716139_5298146472767539290_nEthan Zohn is the 2002 winner of the U.S. reality television show Survivor. With his 1 million dollar prize money, Ethan co-founded Grassroot Soccer, a nonprofit organization that trains professional soccer players to teach African children, a tailor-made SKILLZ curriculum, about HIV/AIDS prevention. In May of 2009, Ethan was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer and has now successfully beaten it—twice.  He spoke about being a survivor, gave life lessons and left us all inspired and motivated.  “Opening Session was very fun and energetic! Ethan Zohn was a fantastic speaker, and I appreciated his story,” said a delegate. We then had the amazing opportunity to induct Ethan as an Honorary Member. Ethan also announced that he will be dedicating a scholarship to a Golden Key member next year.


Opening Session continued with the recognition of 2013 scholarship recipients who were present at the conference. Next, we were excited to unveil our new Global Service Initiative:  SPARK a Change.  We played a video and let the attendees know they could participate in the first ever SPARK service event on Saturday. The Opening Session was a great way to start the conference. Afterwards, delegates were then given the chance to network and mingle while advisors and VIP guests were taken on a boat cruise that sailed the beautiful Boston Harbor.

GEICO_exhibitorDay 2 started up with our Plenary Sessions where delegates were served breakfast and heard an update from headquarters.  The EXPO and Marketplace were open from 8am-4pm so attendees could stop by on their breaks. The EXPO consisted of more than 30 exhibitors consisting of graduate schools and organizations.  Exhibitors included Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, Collegefeed, Harvard Kennedy School, Columbia University’s school of education, The Princeton Review, King’s College London, Vault, Rotman School of Management—just to name a few. The Marketplace was the interactive area of the EXPO hall where attendees could take pictures in the photo booth, play games (such as Heads Up and corn hole), get professional headshots taken free of charge and charge their electronic devices at the charging station.

photo xnkhs.JPGThroughout the day on Friday there was a large variety of workshops that delegates could take part in. From chapter specific lessons to personal/professional development workshops to a track specifically for chapter advisors, the workshops had something for everyone.  Attending the various workshops to grow professionally and take lessons back to one’s chapter is the most important part of the Summit.

postersessionSeveral other activities happened throughout the day.  For the first time, Golden Key held a Poster Session. Delegates had the chance to display their academic work for the chance to be awarded scholarship money. All attendees were welcome to visit the Poster Session to view the academic work of the participants.  On the last day we were able to present the Poster Session winners with their checks.  Jennifer Greer was awarded 1st place ($1,000), Aygul Gaysina was the runner up ($750), followed by Stacy Philip in 3rd ($500) and an honorable mention for Sahil Gupta ($250).  There was also a New Charter Reception and Online School Reception.

Participants make snack bags for the homeless
Participants make snack bags for the homeless

Next it was time for day 3, Saturday, where our service activities, sponsored by Dream Careers, were the focus.  Attendees also had the chance to attend additional workshops if they did not want to participate in the service projects.  Those participating in the service projects were welcomed and learned about the two organizations we teamed up with: the City Mission Society of Boston and the Biojewelry project of the WY Partners of the Americas. Attendees were randomly split up into groups for the different projects. The projects with the City Mission Society of Boston included making fleece blankets, hats and scarves; bagging toiletries and snacks; making watercolor artwork; and the school mailings and book program.  A former homeless man and woman spoke to these groups about their experiences living in homelessness and working with the City Mission Society of Boston. The group working with Biojewelry created jewelry from Brazilian seeds and nuts.  The funds raised from the sale of the jewelry will go towards buying mobile mammogram units for women in remote locations of Brazil. Watch a recap of the service projects here!

The service projects were our first SPARK events.  Through the hard work and dedication of the GK members present, 849 hours of service were completed and 2,175 lives were touched.  We hope each of the attendees will leave this International Summit and head back to their local communities to begin SPARKing a change and helping us accomplish our SPARK goals of 400,000 hours of service, 400,000 lives impacted and raising $40,000 by our 2017 International Summit!

That evening, the Red Carpet Reception was held. Those that registered for this additional event had the opportunity to mix and mingle with Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s and our 2014 Closing Gala keynote speaker. As 6pm rolled around on Saturday, it was time to close out the conference at the Gala.

Before dinner and entertainment began, we had a silly, fun way to recap the conference with our “Happy” video. Next it was time for our contest winner, Jon Morris who is Auburn University’s Chapter President, to introduce our keynote speaker. We also had a chance to share a little bit about Jon’s story by playing his winning video.

GK Members Pose With Jerry
GK Members Pose With Jerry

Then it was time for Jerry Greenfield to address the captive audience.  Jerry and his long-time friend and business partner Ben Cohen are the men behind one of the most talked-about, and least conventional success stories in American business. Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., Greenfield has helped to build a store front venture into an ice cream and business marvel by making social responsibility and creative management strengths, rather than weaknesses. Jerry shared funny stories of getting started and wisdom about why he thinks his venture became a success.  One attendee raved, “Jerry Greenfield has got to be my favorite speaker of any conference I’ve attended.” We then had the distinct pleasure of inducting him as a Golden Key Honorary Member—and if you were at the conference you would know this was a real treat for Jerry!

Then dinner was served and attendees were entertained by an awesome performance by a local a capella group called The Eight Tracks. After dinner, there were just a few more things to wrap up.  Key Chapter recipients were presented with special plaques, our raffle winners from the day before were announced and the Spirit Cup winner was announced—congratulations to U.S. Region 3!

Before we officially closed the Summit, we revealed the location of the next GK International Summit: Gold Coast, Australia!  The announcement was a great way to end such an amazing event.  GK members, see you on the Gold Coast in 2015! Golden Key would like to thank everyone that attended and helped out at the 2014 International Summit!

View our photos from the conference here:

About Golden Key

Golden Key is the world's largest collegiate honor society. Membership into the Society is by invitation only and applies to the top 15% of college and university sophomores, juniors and seniors, as well as top-performing graduate students in all fields of study, based solely on their academic achievements. As an international honor society with more than 400 chapters at colleges and universities around the world, Golden Key is committed to a high standard of scholastic achievement, and an ethos of integrity, innovation, respect, collaboration and diversity.