by Malke van WijkContributing Writer
More than 180 students from Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona universities gathered at the Sheraton Astrodome Hotel April 12-14 to participate in the Golden Key National Honor Society's Southwest Regional Conference.
The theme of the conference was "Rocketing to Excellence," highlighting Houston's investment with space through NASA, and Houston's back-to-back NBA champion basketball team.
While most students came to have a fun weekend away from the pressures of projects and exams, six members of the University of Houston chapter went through many ordeals and anxieties to coordinate the conference.
"We went through hell," said music major Tony Lingham, president of the UH Golden Key chapter, as he described finding out how to prepare a conference, dealing with supervisors and reserving a place for the conference.
The group discovered that UH's University Center was booked for one tentative date and the University Hilton was only available at another time. Eventually, the group booked the Sheraton Astrodome Hotel for the event.
"Until the last moment, things weren't settled," Lingham said. "But the UH people stuck together as a team. I think that's probably the most important thing."
The conference went smoothly and provided a wide selection of programs. Friday evening, students gathered to meet other conference guests and establish new relationships. Saturday, students attended workshops to learn about the role of Golden Key officers and programs, plus professional and personal development seminars.
Elwyn Lee, UH vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, addressed the conferees about the benefits of pursuing excellence. Alex Ignatiev, UH physics professor and the director of UH's Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center, addressed the dinner guests about the SVEC and its role in reaching beyond known frontiers.
"We had good speakers," said music major Esther Liu, conference coordinator and the historian of the UH Golden Key chapter. "I think the theme of excellence holds it together. The SVEC is a strong point of UH that is uplifting and also pointing indirectly toward excellence."
The conference highlight was a disco, at which a space bride from Baylor performed a garter toss, and other aliens, like Darth Vader from Star Wars, invaded the dance floor. A breakfast on Sunday morning ended the conference.
"The people that came to the conference looked happy," said Liu. "They feel that they've gained a lot of knowledge and social relationships."
The UH chapter of the Golden Key National Honor Society held elections for new officers Saturday and will meet at least once a month. For more information about the Golden Key National Honor Society, call 926-4675.