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Golden Key Spotlight: Gabriele Angelo Ciminelli

Golden Key Spotlight: Gabriele Angelo Ciminelli

Aloha. My full name is Gabriele Angelo Ciminelli and it has given people enormous trouble over the years! Though it might be a name that sounds like it is from the renaissance era, I can assure you I do love my name. To make things happier […]

Golden Key Spotlight: Gabriele Ciminelli

Golden Key Spotlight: Gabriele Ciminelli

It’s not uncommon for students to take a study abroad year. It’s just that I was 37 when I took mine. I completed my first bachelor’s degree in 2001, joining Golden Key at that time, and then completed a second bachelor’s degree part-time by distance […]

Golden Key Spotlight: Ryan Kungl

Golden Key Spotlight: Ryan Kungl

As the sole Founder and Director of Clinics For Kids (CFK), I am proud to have grown CFK to include more than 20 professionals and health students. This includes researchers, doctors, medical students, dentists, dental students, optometrists, and nurses, including 4 Aboriginal Australian members. At CFK we believe in pushing the boundaries of what’s possible; we believe in thinking differently.


My commitment to service in the non-profit health sector best illustrates my ability to create lasting change in the world. I am deeply involved in this work and it has become an extremely important part of my life. As a dental student, I feel incredibly privileged that many of the skills I learn in my post-baccalaureate dental degree are directly applicable to supporting others.


In June 2019, with a personal loan from the bank, I was able to launch a large paediatric dental initiative in rural Uganda, Africa.  My team provided more than 35 kilograms of toothpaste, 1,000 toothbrushes, oral hygiene workshops, and dental examinations for more than 1,000 children. We also performed more than 300 dental cleans and more than 300 emergency treatments over 2 weeks.


This year, my team has continued to demonstrate a new standard in student led collaboration in the charitable health space, through engagement with the local homeless population.


Leveraging existing relationships with our dental school, local dental clinics and homeless service provider partners coupled with our track record of treating many patients at a low cost, our next project aims to provide emergency dental care to more than 100 local homeless over three non-consecutive clinical days. Our first clinical day on April 7th was a tremendous success.


I am also leading a team, along with 2 colleagues, for 2 non-consecutive weeks, in Cherbourg where we will provide dental treatment for more than 200 Indigenous Australians. These clinics will take place on June 21-25 and for a week in November.


Ryan Kungl – Director of Clinics For Kids

Golden Key Spotlight: Michael A. Cowling

Golden Key Spotlight: Michael A. Cowling

Perhaps the truest sign of real passion is what someone chooses to focus on whilst facing a life-threatening illness. My name is Michael Cowling, and I joined Golden Key in 1997, having been invited during the first year of my Bachelor of Information Technology degree […]

Golden Key Spotlight: Malavika Kanoria

Golden Key Spotlight: Malavika Kanoria

“As an international student, what you really crave for is home away from home, and my university and the whole committee of Golden Key has been my home away from home.” Malavika Kanoria began studying a Master of Business Administration (International) at Deakin University in […]

Golden Key Spotlight: Marisa Duong

Golden Key Spotlight: Marisa Duong

By Connor Simpson

Marisa Duong joined Golden Key in 2017 after discovering the society through her Bachelor of Philosophy degree coordinator. Marisa was seeking the opportunity to develop her academic career and explore fields of research that interested her. After learning more about Golden Key’s philosophy, Marissa found the three pillars – Academics,  Leadership and Service – resonated strongly with her.

The committees emphasis on academics offered her a chance to network with others who share a passion for their profession.

Marisa started as the Professional Development Officer, before stepping up as the first President of the University of Western Australia Chapter. During her time with Golden Key, Marisa has gained numerous skills. Notably, she has learnt marketing and promotion skills, and improved her ability to convey compelling ideas to others.

Marisa’s goal within the UWA Chapter was to create a ripple effect throughout the Golden Key community. She says she wanted to reach out to connect future students, current students and alumni and create a group which helps each other and gives back to the community.

“The people who I worked with are so inspiring. They are what gave me a sense of community and belonging. I wanted to give back to the community that has given me so much,” Marissa says.

Marisa says seeing others strive inspires her to develop her skills, network with others, and create a strong community vision with a sense of belonging.

“The more you put in, the more you will get out of this experience,” Marissa says.

“It is not enough to idly participate. The society is much more than just a CV item. You can attend seminars, propose ideas about events to the local committee, or join the committee yourself.

“The resources and global connections you can form will not happen on their own; you must actively seek them out.”

Marisa recently submitted her PhD thesis in Biochemistry, focusing on molecular science proteomics. She is now working as a researcher at Harry Perkins – Proteomics International.

She says the importance of networking with like-minded industry professionals helped her get to where she is in her career.

In the coming years, Marisa aims to influence the direction and vision of her field,  by growing and thriving as a researcher focusing on bio-markers, early diagnosis and drug treatment.

Golden Key Spotlight– Kitty Hoi Yan Wong

Golden Key Spotlight– Kitty Hoi Yan Wong

Golden Key strives to encourage its members in three aspects: Academics, Leadership and Service. Kitty Hoi Yan Wong, a Golden Key member since 2017, perfectly encapsulates the values of Golden Key, and her work in Community Service has proved truly impactful to her local community. […]


The Canadian Golden Key Leadership Summit, also known as CANCON, was held in Montreal this year February 23-25, at the Marriott Chateau Champlain.

Golden Key's Executive Director Brad Rainey Reflects on 40 Years of Golden Key

Brad Rainey, Golden Key’s Executive Director, Reflects on What Golden Key Has Become in 40 Years . . . and What Its Future Holds

I became involved with Golden Key within a few months of its founding in 1977 and today, I am Executive Director. Even though I devoted 35 years to building a career in real estate, I have always been intimately involved with Golden Key.  For all Golden Key’s 40 years, I have been a champion and a believer.

The Golden Key story began in 1977 but the events that led to my involvement can be traced to the fall of 1973 when I was a freshman at the University of Mississippi. It was then that I met Jim Lewis, who is rightfully recognized as Golden Key’s founder. Jim and I got to be buddies, so much so that we decided to room together our sophomore year. Even though Jim transferred to Georgia State during his sophomore year, we remained friends. And as things turned out, we worked closely together as Golden Key grew and developed.

When he was completing his senior year at Georgia State, Jim saw that there was a need for a new kind of honor society. So he talked to students, got people interested, and ultimately obtained approval from the University to invite students to join the organization that would become Golden Key. The seminal idea was to create an honor society that would extend membership invitations only to top academic achievers – students whose GPA fell within the top 15% at their schools. Jim felt that idea would resonate very well with top students, so invitations were sent out. The response was very good, and the first induction ceremony took place on November 29, 1977 at Georgia State.

Based on that response, Jim saw the he had an idea that was worth pursuing – one that would resonate at other universities as well. A woman named Mary Evans became the first secretary.  And the fledgling staff was soon joined by another student, Steve Pracht, who shared the vision for Golden Key. Things were off to a good start and Golden Key was highly successful wherever it went. Activities increased at such a pace that Steve got excited and worked for a year without taking a paycheck.  Much of the credit for the early success and growth of Golden Key should be assigned to Steve Pracht.  Steve worked full time for the Society for about 25 years and still contributes to its mission.

One reason for Golden Key’s immediate success, I believe, is that it was more ambitious in vision than other honor societies, some of which I was also involved with at the time. One of them was Phi Kappa Phi, really quite a distinguished society. Being tapped to join was, and is, quite an honor. But at that time, Phi Kappa Phi didn’t get too involved with ongoing student activities or programs. Members were nominated by faculty members. There was a very elegant induction dinner, but then not too many more things happened.

Golden Key was conceptualized in a different way. As I noted above, only students who had performed to a high academic standard – the top 15% of students – would be invited to join. That was different from being nominated by a committee that weighed a variety of factors.

Another difference, from the start, was that Golden Key would provide funding to chapters and let the students who led them control what their Chapters would do, and how they would spend their Chapter’s fund. Activities were planned and run by the Chapters, not by the governing organization. That led to some interesting developments. The founders of Golden Key didn’t at first envision it as an organization that would get extensively involved in community service. That activity was actually born in the Chapters. We discovered that when you get a group of high-achieving people together and provide them with funding and other resources, great activities begin to happen almost spontaneously. And when students are given the resources to develop activities that have meaning for them that generates a lot of enthusiasm.

From the early days, Golden Key took a portion of the membership fees received and turned right around and used them to provide scholarships for members in every Chapter. Offering scholarships and financial aid to members is a foundational activity for Golden Key. It remains a central part of our vision for supporting high achievers.

As Golden Key was expanding to new campuses, it got a certain amount of pressure from the administration at Georgia State to incorporate, to file for proper status with the IRS, and to organize a Board of Directors and be properly governed. That was in 1978. I became a Board member, and I have remained involved with Golden Key for its entire 40 years. During those years, I took on many roles, including Chair of the Board, Vice Chair of the Board, Chair of the Finance Committee, Secretary of the Board, and Chair of the Compensation Committee. But I did not actually become an employee of Golden Key until November of 2011. At that time, a search began for a new Executive Director to helm the organization. The Board asked me to watch over the activities of the staff while the search moved forward. But I was then given the opportunity to serve as Executive Director, a position that I gladly accepted. I had spent 35 years in real estate business, and assuming another leadership role at Golden Key was a natural step for me.

I have greatly enjoyed serving as Executive Director, and I am extremely proud that over the last four years alone, Golden Key has awarded millions of dollars to our members in grants and scholarships.  There have been many other activities that have made me especially proud. Over the last few years, we have placed additional emphasis on providing members with opportunities to have international experiences. We’ve been providing travel grants that have helped Golden Key members travel to countries outside their own regions to attend conferences. For example, we are providing travel grants to attend the 6 Leadership Summits that we will host in 2018 for student members in the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia. As it has been in the past, we are deeply committed to programs that give students the opportunity to study abroad – international experience.  Golden Key is an international society and most of the credit for our presence outside of the United States is due to Mark Herndon who is currently serving the Society as Vice President – International.

I have had the opportunity to meet outstanding students from all over the world. As you know, we have operations in countries that include Australia, Canada, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa, and more. I am always impressed at the caliber of our members, just incredibly moved by the stories of many of the people I have met. One is Kenechukwu Ikebuaku, a young man from Nigeria whom I first met at a conference in Australia. Thanks to his hard work and with the support of Golden Key, he first became an outstanding student. He is now in the process of launching Nigel International, an organization whose mission is to expand opportunities for young people in Africa. He is now a graduate student at the University of Texas and he is working with Onesimus Technologies, a company that helps Nigerian youth start and run their businesses. Kene is an inspiration. And a few months ago, I got to know another Golden Key member named Omarwalid Noorazada, an outstanding student and Fulbright Scholar who has traveled all over the world as a Golden Key Chapter President. It is immensely rewarding for me to be involved with so many great students who are performing at such a high level and doing outstanding things around the world.

Where do I see Golden Key going in the future? In the world environment today, I think that it is incumbent on the Honor Society to find ways to better deliver new and more extensive benefits to our members, so they become more empowered.

And the core benefits of Golden Key will remain unchanged. Members know they are part of a quality organization that will help them advance their careers, make valuable connections, and enjoy unequaled opportunities to grow and make contributions to their communities and the world.

Why Honor Societies Have Admissions Requirements

Why Honor Societies Have Admissions Requirements

Have you been invited to join Golden Key International Honour Society? Or would you like to join?