—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 —
Golden 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.
The 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.
Saturday 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.
The 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!