by Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald, Professor of Biology
The National Alpha Chi Convention was held in Nashville on April 4-6, 2013. Two students, Krystyna Clark (sec/tres) and Jessica Ferrell (VP) and two sponsors, Drs. Randel Price and Malinda Fitzgerald attended the meeting. There were over 500 attendees and over 200 presentations. Dr. Randel Price served as a judge in two sessions and attended several others. Two presentations were made by CBU students: In the molecular and cell biology session, Krystyna Clark*, Maria T. Asuncion Chin, Aditya K. Singh, and Alex M. Dopico. “Cloning and Expression of cDNA Encoding the Ryanodine Receptor Isoform 2 (RyR2) from Rat Cerebral Artery Smooth Muscle” and in health and disease Jessica Ferrell and Anton Reiner “Motor dysfunction accompanies corticospinal tract damage in a mouse model of closed-head traumatic brain injury.”
The opening speaker was TN Supreme Court Justice William C. Koch and the CBU students were able to visit with him after the program. He spoke on the individuals that contributed to his development and mentored him. Probably one of the most interesting points in his talk was you don’t always know who your mentors are, they may assist you without you knowing it
In addition to these two presentations, the TN Theta Alpha Chi Chapter was presented with a star chapter award. This is the 4th time in a row and the overall 5th time since 1995 when Dr. Fitzgerald became the primary sponsor.
Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald is currently serving as the vice president of region III. The National Alpha Chi organization is divided into seven regions. Region III is one of the largest regions, in part because it has several institutions of higher education in the SE and secondarily many of the chapters at these institutions are old established chapters. Dr. Fitzgerald will become the president of the region in 2014, after the national convention in Saint Louis and serve for two more years. In order to win a star award the chapter has to accomplish the following: Complete a service project, have an induction, apply for one of the national scholarship, have at least one scholarly event, and attend the annual meeting and have at least one student presentation. The primary scholarly event for our chapter is the Student Research Poster Session that is always scheduled for the third Tuesday in April. This year it will be the on April 16th and it is the 17th annual event. Students from across the campus have presented at this event and it seems to enlarge each year.
The big news that we received at the meeting was that Krystyna Clark won one of the 10 nationally awarded graduate scholarships to continue her education. This is the first CBU student to win one of these competitive awards. The award is called the Benedict Scholarship and is $ 2,500. She will be attending Pharmacy school at UTHSC this fall. While we were unable to be in Nashville because we had returned to Memphis for the TAS meeting at CBU, Krystyna still was surprised when we made the announcement at the TAS award luncheon!
Dr. Price was able to attend the awards ceremony on Saturday, after the others had returned to Memphis. A surprise award that he brought back with him was that Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald won the Distinguished Service Sponsor Award for Region III. He presented it to her at CBU.
The service that the chapter has conducted this past year has been primarily supporting the national reading is fundamental program. The chapter collected hundreds of new and used books and distributed them to the Head Start, Snowden Clue Program and Caritas Village. In addition to this the chapter has collected quarters for Heifer International and has enough for a goat ($120) and is well on its way to the second goat. Alpha Chi in conjunction with Sigma Tau Delta at CBU spearheaded the collection of Toys for Tots on campus, participated in Bowling for Uganda (sponsored by BBB and initiated by students in the MHIRT program), and helped in the collection over 400 pounds of food for the Mid South Food Bank.
Service comes naturally to Dr. Fitzgerald who also participated in other community service projects through her church, for example she directed collection of materials to send to Afghanistan to soldiers for Christmas. Her church, Prescott Baptist, has long been know for social justice and community involvement, funds were also collected to assist Sherwood Elementary School, and a MA refugee assistance program, started by Meredith Walsh a MHIRT graduate. Meredith will also be honored on May 2, 2013 by the MA legislature for her involvement “to the civic life, economic development, and social progress of the Commonwealth.” Many MHIRT graduates continue to be involved in service with the country that they conducted research in. A prime example was Samantha Bowers who won the Gerald Vanderhaar Student Peace Award in 2012. Some of the programs that have been started by student graduates from the MHIRT: Visible Campus, Gulu Walk, Arudo Yat, Easy Access to Bed Nets, Bowling for Uganda supporting Hope North, helping selling children’s art work through Let Art Talk, and Kopo Kopo to allow medium and small African businesses to accept mobile payments.
Like all faculty and students at CBU we enter to learn and leave to serve.