Students publicly share research in returning honors conference

Photo courtesy of Cindy Lam.

The National Collegiate Honors Conference (NCHC) was held in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic between Oct. 27 to Oct. 31. The theme of the 56th annual conference was “Reimagining honors: past, present, future,” echoing the unprecedented teaching and personal experiences of educators during the global disruption.

Ramapo’s Honors Program sent six students to Orlando, Fla. to participate. Dr. Joost Monen, co-director of the College Honors Program, was excited for students to have an opportunity to receive recognition for their hard work and expand their interests.

“Conferences offer students innumerable experiences that expand the ones they have within the halls of the college,” Dr. Monen said. “They provide them with great opportunities to network with students and faculty from other national, and sometimes global, universities and institutions, whereby students are able to explore new ideas and innovations within their respective fields of study and even to learn about others that might interest them.” 

The work presented by participants varied widely. “Sexism in Medicine: The Impact on both Patient and Provider” by senior Noelle Bivona discussed how gender assumptions can lead to patients receiving improper care and suffering higher mortality rates.

On a lighter note, seniors Morgan Wall and Miriam Sokolska shared their zine, Cettle Kooked. “The subject of our idea exchange was community building and creativity in Honors programs through the use of zines. We focused on our message that ‘everything is art and everyone is an artist’ and discussed how Cettle Kooked got its start,” Wall said.

"Does Perceived Drug Use Play a Role in Choosing Romantic Partners?" by junior Cindy Lam was inspired by how the recent legalization of marijuana contrasted against the stigma typically associated with drug usage. “This research determined which kinds of drugs are more stigmatized and whether specific drugs impact romantic desirability and other personality traits,” Lam said.

Ramapo students enjoyed the conference for reasons beyond having the opportunity to present their own work. “It was so wonderful to be in a space where everyone is excited to talk about their work. The enthusiasm was infectious and I felt I learned so many new things,” Bivona said. “I had so much fun with the other honors students that attended. I also met a lot of really interesting people, something I would not have done if I had not had the opportunity.”

The location of the conference had certain perks as well. Students stayed in the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort at no personal expense and had an opportunity to explore one of the acclaimed parks. “On Friday evening, we all had to travel across the world in EPCOT and rode the new Ratatouille Ride,” Lam recounted.

Participants will not forget their experience any time soon. “Honestly, the conference was just another testament to how supportive Ramapo's Honors Program is of students' work, regardless of the content or medium. It felt really nice to be supported in that way,” Wall said.

For Ramapo students who aren’t in the Honors Program, but are still interested in opportunities to present their work, there are plenty of options open. 

“For those who aren't in Honors, the best way to find opportunities to participate in conferences is to get involved in faculty-student research and to talk to the professors in your courses about what conference opportunities are available,” Co-Director Dr. Rebecca Root said. “Ramapo usually sends students to the COPLAC conference each Fall, and features student research at our own on-campus Scholars Day each spring.”