Within sight of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and beautiful Lake Erie, the national convention in Cleveland is where Alpha Chi members and chapter advisors gathered April 4-6, 2019. The Hilton Cleveland Downtown was the hub from which Alpha Chi’s national convention attendees met in Ohio for a three-day experience of academic and creative presentations, workshops designed to strengthen chapter life and foster leadership experiences, and inspiration from speakers from both within and outside of the Alpha Chi community.
This year’s theme was simple: #AXRocks!
Approximately 200 students made presentations this year—some their first such presentation at a national conference. One thing that makes Alpha Chi conventions so unique is that nearly every academic discipline you can imagine is represented. In fact, more than 27 academic fields carry presentation prizes that have been endowed by and on behalf of Alpha Chi alumni members and special friends of the society over the last decade.
Delegates heard from two people who have had both interesting and inspirational lives and careers. Dr. Shivraj Sohur grew up in Espérance Trébuchet, on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. As an undergraduate in Texas, his exemplary grades and hard work earned him the honor of membership in Alpha Chi. This year, thanks to recognition by his Alpha Chi chapter at Angelo State University, he is being presented with Alpha Chi’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Sohur currently works at Alkermes Inc. Research and Development where he is helping conduct clinical trials in neuropsychiatric disorders. He is also the founding president of the 5-2035 Global Foundation for Community Health (5-2035.org) whose mission is to decrease the high rate of type II diabetes in Mauritius to only 5% prevalence by the year 2035. Its goal is to empower communities to work together with experts and the government in the fight against chronic non-communicable disease (CNCD). The hope is to facilitate a health care revolution in Mauritius through integrated health care as a model for the world.
Our other speaker, a Clevelander himself, Dr. Raymond Onders, is a doctor and dreamer who has invented an incredible, life-changing device. In layman’s terms, it’s a pacemaker for the diaphragm that is improving the quality of life for patients who’ve suffered paralysis below the neck and are seriously limited by life on ventilators. He enthusiastically shared with us how his medical practice and research found him breathing life into a medical device that literally helps others to breathe.
And lest we forget that all Alpha Chi members are charged with making their “scholarship effective for good,” chapters had the opportunity all year to raise funds and collect books for Reading Is Fundamental (RIF.org). Online donations throughout the year were added to on-site donations to total $2022 in monies donated to RIF by Alpha Chi members and friends. Some chapters even brought new children’s books, so a group of delegates went to a local elementary school to read those books directly to 1st-graders at Paul L. Dunbar Academy on Friday afternoon.
Don’t forget that generous grants for travel and housing are provided by both Alpha Chi’s national headquarters and your chapter’s region for national convention attendance each year. In most cases, nearly full funding can be obtained for one advisor and one student presenter from each collegiate chapter. Speak with your chapter advisor if you’re interested.
Next year the convention will be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico—a bucket list destination. You won’t want to miss out. It will be an opportunity you will never forget.