By Elton Banks, Stephanie Allen Winters, and Dr. Malinda Fitzgerald
This past March, Stephanie Allen-Winters and I (Elton Banks) had the opportunity to travel to St. Louis so that we could be a part of the Alpha Chi national conference. Alpha Chi is an interdisciplinary honor society and I serve as the president, Stephanie is the VP of our local chapter, and Daryl Stephens is the secretary/treasurer. The opening speaker was Dr. Dennis Richardson who is a helminthologist. He cofounded a non-profit called Bawa Health Initiative in Camaroon, Africa. Their main goal is a clean and safe water supply. The Alpha Chi students raised $5,000 to build latrines in Bawa, Camaroon. Students also participated in a “walk for water”, the theme of this year’s convention. There were a lot of similarities between the Bawa health initiative and the projects that MHIRT students have conducted in Uganda on access to health care and prevention of malaria. The other plenary speaker was four star General Tommy Franks, an Alpha Chi Alumnus. He spoke about his career in the military and how Alpha Chi prepares you to be a leader in the future. He also had copies of his recent autobiography available.
Stephanie Allen-Winters presented the results from her senior research with Dr. Anand Kanwaljeet in the Health Sciences division of the Alpha Chi presentations. Stephanie won first place for her presentation entitled “How demographic factors influence the cortisol levels of infants and young children” and will receive a cash prize. She also competed and won one of two regional scholarships (Region III SE USA) of $500.00 to be used towards her graduate education. From attending various presentations and participating in the poster session and talks, we had a really good time. We also attended various workshops, one of which gave us a fresh perspective on some fundraising ideas that could benefit both Christian Brothers University and the surrounding Memphis community. For instance, we came up with the idea to help shelters in the Memphis area dodge the cold during the winter by gathering used coats in exchange for participation in a tournament-style game of dodgeball. During the evenings and between events, we had a chance check out a few of the monuments, restaurants, and other interesting attractions within St. Louis. Overall, we had a wonderful experience. We would certainly recommend that any student joining this organization attend the Alpha Chi National Honor Society conference next year.