Supporting Student Attendance at Congress: What the State Societies are Doing

 Published: September 12, 2019

By: Jacqe Segura

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students clapping for congress 2019 speaker


We all know student RTs are the future of the profession. Getting these newcomers involved in professional activities while they are still in school is a great way to ensure they’ll have the tools they’ll need to lead the way, and one of the best ways to do that is to provide them with the assistance they need to attend their very first AARC Congress.

Many of the AARC state societies are doing just that through formal programs aimed at offering financial support for deserving students to come to the meeting. Several state society leaders shared their experiences with us for this article.

An investment worth making

The Georgia Society has been helping students attend the Congress for about four years now, says Kiley Hodge, RRT, RRT-ACCS. Generally speaking, they select one student per year and provide about $1,000 in financial aid. The funds come from the general GSRC budget and donations.

“The student that attends is invited to the GSRC Winter Symposium to share their experience,” Hodge said. “The GSRC believes the students are the growth and future of the society, and that is an investment worth investing in.”

The Hawaii Society sends at least one student per year to the Congress and the House of Delegates (HOD) meeting that precedes it, providing them with $500 or more in financial assistance.

“Students provide feedback to delegates and the HSRC board and are asked to give a presentation at the annual meeting,” said Ed Borza, RRT, RRT-NPS, RRT-ACCS, CPFT, AE-C. “They are impressed with the professionalism in the HOD and the passion for the profession seen at the meetings and the Congress.”

Borza says the HSRC has been supporting student attendance at the meeting since 2007 and believes strongly that it helps to build new leadership for the state society going forward.

“In 11 years, we’ve had about 15 student interns, and 8-10 have wound up serving on the HSRC Board of Directors at some point in their career,” he said. “Especially for Hawaii students, we like to show them the bigger, broader world of RT, beyond our little islands in the middle of the Pacific.”

Building engagement

RTs in Idaho established a $1,500 scholarship a couple of years ago to send students to the Congress and the HOD meeting, and Jan Arrasmith, MBM, RRT, says both of the students who took advantage of it came away with a better understanding of how the AARC and HOD work.

“We started providing assistance because other states had said how it helped students become more engaged,” she said. “It also helps with member retention. Students come back and share their experience with others.”

Dré Bender, MBA, MHA, RRT, believes the student assistance program offered by the Utah Society is keeping students involved in the AARC and showing them the benefits of membership. They’ve been offering the program for about ten years now and generally two students per year are selected.

They’d like to improve upon their process, though, so that the availability of the program is more widely disseminated to students across the state and students go through a more rigorous vetting process.

“We would love some suggestions and feedback from other successful state programs,” she said.

Dennis J. Guillot, PhD, RRT, says the Louisiana Society has been supporting students who participate in the Sputum Bowl ever since the student division of the Bowl was created. Every year they raise about $2,000 to help the 3-4 students who make up the current year’s team make the trip.

Given the site of the 2019 meeting, they’ll be helping even more students attend this year.

“Because it is in New Orleans this year, we are sponsoring three teams and up to 12 students,” Dr. Guillot said.

Reach out for more info

If your state society has yet to support student attendance at the Congress, contact these state societies to gain more insight into how such a program can work and why it is important for building your next generation of state society leaders. You can find contact information for all the AARC state society leaders in the AARC Officiary.

Email with questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you.

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