NSCS. The National Society of Collegiate Scholars. That’s the only thing I knew about this prestigious organization. From what I knew, it was “just another” national honor society. From what I knew, I thought it would be just a bunch of nerds gathering on college campuses across the nation celebrating each others’ brilliance and intelligence.

Needless to say, I was wrong, naive and very judging. I regret and repent for that.

Don’t get me wrong, I am honored and very blessed to be a part of such a group, but I received my information in my school mailbox from an organization I had never heard of, expecting to pay a certain amount for membership to a group I knew nothing about. Needless to say, my parents were very thrilled and eagerly said I should be in this group. So I agreed.

I didn’t hear anything from my NSCS chapter from then on out. I didn’t think too much about it, but the one thing I did hear quite a bit about was this convention that NSCS annually held. This year’s was to be in Puerto Rico.

The convention was a scary idea for me. Going on this trip meant that I would be traveling to PR with hundreds of some of the smartest people in the nation. Alone. Not knowing anybody. It’s a little intimidating, and I consider myself to be somewhat friendly and sociable. Why am I here? On top of that, my past experiences with networking, job searching and the like were very poor and minimal. On paper, nothing made sense to me as to why I was attending this. I said okay finally, prayed a lot, and then boarded my plane to San Juan. When I arrived in PR, it was storming.

Welcome to NSCS, Robby.

I was nervous, no doubt, but I kept telling myself that God would provide and help me out. So I was relaxed. On the outside at least.

Josh Shipp of MTV kicked off the festivities Thursday night. I liked him. Funny, smart, REAL. What I liked most about Josh was how much he wasn’t like other motivational speakers that went on about themselves and then regurgitated that info to all of us. It was a real guy with real problems and a real personality. Bad things are gonna happen in your life, so stop complaining about your (or others’) life. REAL. It’s not what gets you in the room, but what keeps you in the room. REAL. You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference, you just have to be willing to step out.

Cliche? Maybe. Real? Absolutely.

Byron Pitts of 60 Minutes fame spoke Friday morning. He wasn’t a funny speaker like Josh, but I loved how he brought faith and God into the mix (obviously!). Referencing passages in Matthew, Joseph and Psalms seemed to make it a little more relatable (for me, at least) and it made sense when put in that context. “There are two types of people in the world: humble and those that will be humbled.” Brilliant! Loved it.

So, the speakers were great, Puerto Rico was, well, Puerto Rico, and everything was going pretty smoothly. I really didn’t meet too many people though. Everything had moved so quickly. Some people call it fate, some call it sheer coincidence. I don’t really know which one it was, but what happened next was by far my favorite part of the whole convention.

The line waiting to meet Byron was really long. Long enough to the point that by the time I finally met Byron, it was halfway through the next session. I knew I was late, but I wanted to meet Byron (Can you honestly blame me?). I also didn’t want to walk in by myself due to that feeling of awkwardness that one gets when the entire room turns around and looks at them. Fortunately, this one kid was going to the same room as I was, so I waited for him. As time went on, he ended up being one of the people I hung out with most and got to know most out of everyone. And from there, I got to meet so many other people that I would have never met otherwise and do certain things that would not have happened if I didn’t stay in line.

How’s that for fateful networking?

You know, for a group that I had never heard of, for a convention that I was hesitant about going to, for a society that I considered to be “too nerdy” for my own good, this was definitely one experience that I will never forget and one experience that I look forward to attending year after upcoming year. The opportunity to hear keynote speakers talking about relevant topics, meet people from all across the nation that I would have never met otherwise, spend time in a place (whether it’s tropical and Caribbean or not) with said people and speakers, is truly remarkable.

And to think I didn’t want to go…

Robby Veronesi is a sophomore at the University of Tennessee, studying Journalism and Electronic Media and is a member of NSCS. He has his own blog where he mainly write about sports, but he also loves writing about places he’s traveled. He is also a newly born-again Christian who was saved this past Easter weekend and it is a major part of his life.