When they get invited to join the Golden Key International Honour Society, many students are initially thrilled at the recognition-until they find out that they have to pay an $80 membership fee. Then they gasp.
“I got a letter from them, but, that s— is mad expensive yo,” replied Adam Reyes who is majoring in photography at CCNY. “I can think of a lot of other things to spend that money on – like supplies for my photography classes or a pair of sneakers. No way.”
But those who belong to this organization, which recognizes outstanding academic achievement, say its well worth it. “Golden Key gives people a chance to be recognized for their effort,” says Nkem Stanley, a CCNY alum and member of the Golden Key. “They’re community service oriented, and we volunteer a lot. I like giving back, and getting involved any way I can.”
For example, on April 28, 2011 Golden Key partnered with CCNY Green and the Wellness and Counseling Center to promote protecting the environment, also known as Earth Day.(CCNY students are seen in the photo, above, at the event.) Recyclable bags emblazoned with the GK logo were given as prizes to students who could identify where the campus Hydration Stations were located. In addition, CCNY students were asked to bring plastic bottles and bottle caps to the event. Afterward, CCNY Golden Key members took the plastic bottles to the recycling machine and donated the money to an organization. The actual bottle caps were sent to a hospital in Pennsylvania which will recycle them and use the money for cancer research.
Established in 1977, Golden Key selects students who have earned a 3.25 G.P.A. or higher on 190 college campuses around the world from various academic disciplines. The group offers $1 million annually to members through scholarships and award programs. Partnerships with major corporations and graduate programs have provided an abundance of internships, jobs, scholarships and discounts.
Corporate partnering gives members a large array of unique discounts, like 10 percent off Peterson’s Writing Assistants, 8 percent off Geico insurance, up to 50 percent off of subscriptions to the New York Times, a 6 percent discount on new and current plans and waived activation fees on T-Mobile products and services.
More importantly, say members, the Society develops leaders with international summits, workshops, service events, and guidance from faculty advisors. The group also provides money for graduate study internationally.
Golden Key has 20,000 members, including: Bill Cosby, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Dolly Parton, author Stephen King and civil rights activist Julian Bond .
Now about that fee. It’s important to note that once the fee is paid it lasts for a lifetime and never has to be renewed.
What’s more: “The $80.00 fee goes straight to head quarters where it’s divided back to the international and some comes back to the local chapter,” explains Natalie Marte, the CCNY Chapter President under the direction of faculty advisor, Shakir Saud. “Also, from the international standpoint it is used to fund the International Leadership Summit and the Regional Leadership Summit. Basically, it is spread into things you are entitled to, but many members don’t take advantage.”
Adds Marte, who says that 120 Golden Key members will graduate this spring: “Membership opens doors, benefits continue for a lifetime and it’s a place to give back.”