UWinnipeg Golden Key members celebrate successful first year

Members of the 2014 Golden Key Executive and their faculty advisors

Members of the 2014 Golden Key Executive and their faculty advisors

International honour society chapter’s record exceeds expectations

The University of Winnipeg chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society is looking to build on a successful inaugural year. With 230 members and growing, Golden Key has fast become one of the biggest student groups on campus.

“I’ve been very impressed with this chapter so far,” Ian Sankey, Golden Key’s Director for Canada, told the UWinnipeg students who came out to this year’s new membership event on November 17th. “You’re very young, and yet within the first six months, you’ve achieved Silver Status.”

Golden Key chapters are rated each year, based on activities related to the organization’s pillars of academics, leadership and service. Sankey offered his kudos to the UWinnipeg Golden Key executive team.

“New chapters aren’t expected, really, to rate in that first year,” said Chapter President Glen Lovie. He credits the group’s faculty advisors — education faculty member Cathrine Froese-Klassen and Kam Holland, Director of Admissions, Awards and Financial Aid — for their “excellent support” in helping the group get off the ground. “With organizational experience such as they have, they’re able to help us take undeveloped, but good ideas, and make them real ideas,” he said.

Membership to the Golden Key International Honour Society is by invitation only; the top 15 per cent of students are asked to join chapters in participating schools. Members can attend local, national and international leadership events; they are also eligible for exclusive academic awards, scholarships and grants. In year one, an astonishing four UWinnipeg students came away with awards that ranged from $500 to $5,000.

Golden Key members also work together on service initiatives in the community. For example, members from the UWinnipeg chapter have volunteered at the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, raised money for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, and volunteered with children at the Learning Disabilities Association of Manitoba.

“I think building empathy is a key factor,” said Lovie, when asked about the emphasis on community service. He says many members experience their success thanks to a combination of hard work and a more privileged background. “So in a way, it’s a way of making those people a little bit more three-dimensional and a little bit more able to give back to the community that helped put them where they are today.”

Lovie’s colleague on the Golden Key executive group, Evan Podaima (Vice-President of Events), said his experience with Golden Key has also equipped him with new practical skills. “This was my first time orchestrating an event for this many people,” he said at the new membership event, which was held in Convocation Hall beneath Golden Key coloured decorations. “So now I have more experience, especially in delegation, schedule making, and making sure everybody is in the right place at the right time.”

Members also acknowledge community leaders who exemplify Golden Key’s values: this year UWinnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Annette Trimbee and Chancellor Emeritus Dr. W. John Bulman were inducted as honorary members to the UWinnipeg chapter. They joined previously inducted honorary member Dr. Ken McCluskey.

As for Golden Key activities in 2015, planning is in the works. Lovie says they will definitely participate in the honour society’s new “Spark a Change” initiative, which encourages members to “impact the lives of at-risk youth (age 0-17) through literacy, education and real-world preparedness.” They are also exploring participation in an international outreach project called “Golden Future”, which aims to improve “the lives of youth and vulnerable communities in impoverished areas surrounding Cape Town, South Africa.”

While some plans have yet to be finalized, Lovie is certain UWinnipeg’s Golden Key Chapter will continue to thrive. “I think we can really continue the momentum we have now.”

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