Honors conference provides scholarship possibilities

Written by David Roman

Riverside City College’s distinguished Honors Program will be holding a research conference Nov. 20.

The annual RCCD Research Conference will be held in various classrooms throughout the Quad after an opening ceremony in the Administration Building’s auditorium where the coordinator of the Honors Program, Thatcher Carter, will give her yearly address to the students participating in the conference and their friends and family.

“Yeah, it’s something new. Never done this before. I love public speaking but I don’t think a year ago I would have done this.” said Karina Mendoza-Gonzales a first time student presenter.

Essentially, students are allowed to submit one essay or project which they worked in an honors class to the conference. They approach the professor of the class and together they edit the piece to a competitive standard, as each submission is read by a panel of honors professors and the best essays compete for mini-scholarships graciously donated by the Honors faculty.

“My proposal is about religion, how the western world doesn’t properly understand eastern religions. For example how we use some words here but we don’t really understand what they mean to the people who practice the tradition” continued Mendoza-Gonzales.

After the essays or projects are submitted, the student along with their faculty advisor work together to turn the essay into a compelling speech or public performance.

The conference works to encourage the importance of original research and collaborative efforts within academia.

“My submission is an update of a mission proposal that we used to apply to the program (NASA Aerospace Scholars Program), it was a potential rover mission that could go to Mars,” said another first time presenter Sahvanah Perez.

She is excited about the prospect of presenting her research.

“Yes, it’s something different, it’s a lot of work … I do [like public speaking] it’s a lot of fun,” Perez said

The research conference isn’t limited to only Riverside City College students, as it is a district-wide conference, honors students from Moreno Valley College and Norco College can also turn in competing essays and have individual scholarships only they can try for along with the larger scholarships everyone in the conference is competing for.

The top presentations will then in turn be invited by Carter to write up an abstract of their research for submission to a regional community college honors research conference held at the University of California, Irvine where they can compete for larger scholarships, a chance to have their abstracts published in that conference’s yearly program and most importantly a place where they can continue to foster connections with other like-minded undergrads who are interested in doing research post-transfer and beyond.

Past participants have gone on to the UC Irvine conference with great success with RCC’s Honors group having multiple students get published in the past. Students who have submitted to both conferences have gone on to transfer to schools like UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, Pomona College and many other impressive institutions.

“Participating in the RCCD Honors Conference gave me an opportunity to develop my speaking skills but specifically I got to tailor an essay for a very specific audience” said past presenter Ian Dettman. “It’s very specific, you’ll learn how to be concise and it also eases you into public speaking if you haven’t had that experience before.”

In the past, the RCCD’s Honors Research Conference has also opened its doors to submissions from puente students and non-honors students who have submitted exemplary work to professors familiar with the conference and worked it out with the program so they could participate.

The all day event will have food and beverages in the Quad Art Gallery.