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Honors Students in The Big Easy

By Nelson Delado and Darlene Perez on behalf of HSAC


This past November, eight members of the Honors Student Advisory Committee (HSAC) attended the 2013 National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) conference held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Its theme, “Conflicts, Transformation, Creolization,” was inspired by the many changes and infusions that continue to occur in the realms of art, music and culture, and how we approach conflict and adversity from a scholarly perspective.


The conference sessions, comprised of leading honors students and faculty members from their respective two and four-year institutions, showcased presentations and panels that aimed to promote and improve honors program through research, analysis, data gathering, and sharing experiences.  Convention delegates also had the opportunity to participate in City as Text, 

an experiential learning exercise that took participants to different parts of the New Orleans to learn a bit of the city's culture, history and contemporary life.This experience was also very fun way to get to know students from other colleges, and learn a bit about New Orleans in an interactive format.  We also had a chance to meet Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an integrated school in the South.  In her plenary speech, Ms. Bridges shared her memories of that intense time, and how she uses her experience to forge understanding and acceptance among children today.


The LaGuardia delegates were also active participants at the convention.  In addition to serving as panel moderators (Wai "Kat" Lam and Miguel Ballardo), two of our delegates, Daniel Rivera and Wai "Kat" Lam, were selected to participate in poster presentations. Given the 60% rate of acceptance of proposals, this was indeed an achievement.  Kat made LaGuardia very proud when she won the Best Poster Presentation in the Natural Science and Mathematics category for her poster presentation, "The Effects of Ethanol on Courtship, Mate Choice and Fertility in Drosophila Melanogaster." Upon asking Kat how she felt about winning the award, she stated, “I was surprised by the outcome. I thought I was not capable of winning. I didn't have the confidence, and was extremely nervous about presenting, but now I have proven that I am capable of accomplishing great achievements." 


Daniel Rivera, a liberal arts Math and Science major who competed in the Environmental Science and Sustainable Energy Category, was highly praised by his judge for his poster presentation, "Combined Sewage Overflow: Analysis of Ecological Disruption on an Urban Waterway.” The judge insisted he had the work published. Daniel described his experience as "being put shot out of a cannon.” He went on to say, “The NCHC New Orleans trip was a remarkable experience! It was an honor for me to engage with all inspiring honors students and have an opportunity to branch out, share ideas, and expand my horizon for greater achievements."


Edward Joseph, who participated in the Honors Student Fishbowl, engaged in a diverse conversation with honors students from across the nation about the learning experiences in their respective honors programs. He represented LaGuardia Community College in the superbly, suggesting innovative ideas in a comprehensive discussion so that professors and advisers can learn what students enjoy most about their honors programs and how to improve them. Ed described his fishbowl experience as “originally intimidating, but then [he] realized that it was an opportunity to demonstrate the unique dynamic of community college students.” Among all the participants in the fishbowl, Ed stood out as a shining star while giving his unique perspective as a student of a two-year institution.           


On the final day, Vincente Sanchez-Venerio, Raven Gomez, Ronald Moore and Edward Joseph proudly presented on HSAC’s student-led transfer initiative (with big thanks to Miguel Ballardo for working so hard with us on the Prezi presentations). Each member gave a thorough description of the role HSAC members play in promoting a proactive approach to informing students about the transfer process. The audience, which was comprised of mostly faculty advisers and program directors, was amazed by their accomplishments and the ongoing commitment to the helping students on top of their academic endeavors. Ronald described his experience as “an inspiration to see how far he could go as a committee member."  Furthermore, he said, "Being exposed to a network of people who have already reached such milestones, and demonstrating our capabilities through our presentation, and then to receive praise and admiration for our efforts was remarkable.”  An audience member was moved to write a report of our presentation, which can be found here


As a group, we learned how much time and effort was put into a conference of this magnitude. Connecting with peers from across the country and a wide range of diverse backgrounds enabled us to share our hard work in a setting where the goal is to try our best and learn from others. Ultimately, we left a very positive impression on our fellow honors peers across the country by displaying the talent that permeates LaGuardia’s campus. But most importantly, we were inspired to achieve dreams with our fullest efforts and highest potential.

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