As president of Auburn University’s Golden Key chapter and a representative of the Council of Student Members, Sulihat Aloba shows the same level of devotion to GK as she does to her chemical engineering experiments. A doctoral student at Auburn, Sulihat engineered a turnaround in her GK chapter; from low membership and infrequent meetings to a thriving organization. She has three practical tips for keeping your chapter vibrant.
Get the word out.
Some students receiving a GK invite don’t know what Golden Key is. “I know that’s something that happened to me when I got an invitation,” Sulihat says. With campus tabling and informational sessions, she transformed student perceptions of Golden Key by talking about leadership opportunities and the chance to study abroad. Originally from Nigeria, Sulihat is especially passionate about sharing all the knowledge she has about GK scholarships with her fellow foreign students, who may not be fully aware of the benefits for non-U.S. residents.
Mix it up.
Having one idea to attract members to Golden Key is great, but finding five fresh ideas is even better. The Auburn chapter has experimented with various approaches to recruitment; free pizza, different meeting times, a point system for graduation swag. All of these worked; for a while. “When you introduce something,” Sulihat says, “it’s new, it’s different and it works.”
After a while, a new idea becomes yesterday’s news and it’s time to get inventive again. Sulihat praises her executive board members for their creativity: “We have a lot of people with good ideas.” And you can never have too many of those!
Bring the fun.
“Golden Key is by invitation and recognizes the top 10% in terms of academics,” Sulihat explains. “So, one of the things people think is we’re all stuck up. Like, we just read, read, read.” Sulihat looks to Michelle Obama’s style of leadership, not only for her inspiring story and strong commitment but also for the sense of fun she brings to everything she does. Sulihat mixes ice breakers and fun activities in with the serious talk to challenge this stereotype. “One of the things I try to do is give us a different image,” she says. “We do well in school, but we also do well outside school.”