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Honors Travels to Washington, D.C.

This April, the Georgia Southern University Honors Program attended the Southern Regional Honors Council (SRHC) annual conference (SRHC) in Washington, D.C. Students in the program from both the Armstrong and Statesboro campuses traveled together as a united program for the first time, with thirty-eight students delivering panel presentations and displaying research posters. The conference took place over three days, allowing the students to attend sessions as well as explore the nation’s capital.

The honors programs on both campuses have historically participated in the SRHC annual meetings, including jointly hosting the conference in Savannah in 2014. However, this year marked the first time the honors students on the Armstrong and Statesboro campuses attended as a unified program. Both programs have always emphasized the importance of undergraduate research, and so it seems fitting that one of the first unified activities was to present research at a conference for honors programs and colleges.

Kaley Powers (cell and molecular biology ’18) felt that this academic conference aided the process of consolidation. “Students from each campus, Statesboro and Savannah, had the opportunity to get to know each other, especially on the bus rides to and from the conference,” she said. “And students also got to know Dr. Engel and Dr. Roberts better.” she said.

The thirty-eight students from Georgia Southern comprised the largest group from any school represented at the conference. Students’ research was not limited to one discipline. Instead, the conference hosted a large variety of projects, such as engineering, education, and literature. This range gave attendees the opportunity to hear and learn from students in a variety of fields outside their major.

Sophie Fleri (mechanical engineering ’19) said, “My favorite part about the conference was seeing all the great presentations from a diverse group of topics. You could find a presentation on gender studies and then go to one on the way agriculture affects the environment.”

Research can be a daunting task, with many uncertainties. However, for many students this conference gave them insight on what to expect.  Julia Thomas (anthropology ’19) presented research on the aging population in Japan. She said, “The information from my poster presentation was adapted from a project for one of my previous anthropology classes. However, watching my peers present their preliminary Honors Theses made me excited to start my own research.”

Throughout the entirety of the conference, honors community appeared in the camaraderie between the students. In most of the presentations, Georgia Southern University students saw a row of their peers, intently listening. “This is the sixth time presenting my honors research, around the southeast. It is so nice being able to see my friends support me even after watching my presentation several times,” said Bailey Kirk (mathematics ’18).

Tessa Wilkins (health science informatics ’18) presented on how peer education could benefit the undergraduate nursing program at the Armstrong Campus. “My research focuses on how health informatics majors as well as nursing majors can work together educating the other. Health informatics can share the administrative side of medicine, and nursing can present the hands-on clinical side,” she said.

This conference gave her the opportunity to share her research with others while gaining insight and suggestions. “I think the overwhelming benefit was to expose ourselves to new research while making new friends along the way,” Wilkins said. This trip brought the two campuses together.”


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