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Alpha Chi’s 2017 National Convention in Louisville
Challenged Travelers But Did Not Disappoint

Intrepid student scholars and faculty mentors overcame the travails of blustery spring travel, including dozens of cancelled flights causing missed sessions, to assemble in Louisville, Kentucky, for the annual national convention April 6-8, 2017. As more than 400 delegates registered on Thursday, many chapters dropped off cash, checks, bags of coins, and hundreds of new children’s books to be distributed to children visiting pediatric facilities run by Norton Children's as part of a national program called Reach Out and Read. This service initiative, chosen by elected student representatives serving on the convention committee, as well as entries in the Collaborative Research Project competition, the keynote addresses, and individual research presentations offered compelling aspects of the convention theme of Transcending Boundaries.

Thursday evening’s kick-off reception allowed attendees to network among art and research posters showcased in the Fountain Room of the historic Galt House Hotel. The next two days continued the concentration on student scholarship, featuring close to 250 presenters from approximately 80 chapters presenting in adjudicated sessions organized by academic discipline.

Friday morning’s plenary session featured sponsor service awards and the recognition of this year’s Distinguished Alumnus, poet, activist, and professor, Dr. Ed Madden. Madden remarked that when he attended Alpha Chi’s convention 30 years previously as an undergrad presenter he never would have believed he’d one day be speaking at its national podium. Madden, an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina and award-winning poet, soon illustrated the combination of artistry, intellect, and conviction that led to his recognition. Inducted into the Arkansas Eta chapter at Harding University, Madden wove personal stories from his career after college and the family life underlying his most recent work of poetry, motivating the students to not give up on the work they love and the people they love. He concluded his talk reading several poems from Ark, fully engaging the audience. The line for questions after his presentation was long, which continued at the book-signing table, with all attendees eager to meet this warm, humorous, and committed alumnus.

Keynoter Dr. John Janovy intrigued the audience at the Saturday evening gala. His talk “Life Lessons from a Parasite” merged biological truths from his 40-year career as a parasitologist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, with social and cultural truths by analogy and metaphor. Incorporating humor, frequent allusions to popular culture, and scientific evidence to underscore his key ideas, Janovy illustrated why he was an award-winning faculty member and a productive writer in so many genres.

Awards capped the evening, with 26 national scholarship and fellowship winners announced, convention presentation prizes awarded to 29 students, and the $5,000 Nationwide Collaborative Research Prize claimed by the team from the University of North Texas. The culmination of the evening was when the Texas Psi chapter at Abilene Christian University, sponsored by Dr. Jennifer Huddleston, accepted the coveted President’s Cup, Alpha Chi’s prize for outstanding chapter in the nation.

As the sapphire blue and emerald green lights dimmed in the ballroom and delegations gathered their belongings and prepared to journey home, many were already saving the date for next year’s convention, April 5-7, 2018, in Portland, Oregon.