Honors Students Present Their Research
Support for student research is one of the central features of Westminster College's Honors program. That support comes in the form of faculty mentoring, grants for independent summer research, and monetary support to attend professional conferences to share research with students and faculty from around the country.
The NCHC, which selects papers on a refereed basis, is a meeting that Westminster College Honors students attend almost every year. Participation can range from the very modest--like when four Honors students sat on a panel at the New Orleans meeting--to very substantial, when Westminster was represented by eleven different students giving papers at the 2002 meeting. Students interested in submitting papers for review will also have the assistance of the Honors director, who details the steps necessary to propose a paper or panel.
Other conferences that Honors students have participated in include the National Undergraduate Literature Conference at Weber State University, the National Conference for Undergraduate Research, and the Western Regional Honors Council meeting, among others. Honors Degree graduate Heather Brown is representative of how research is both central to the Honors experience and helpful in opening doors. After studying abroad for a semester in Italy, where she got interested in contemporary Italian women's literature, Heather received an Honors independent summer research grant to support further work on that topic, then developed that paper into a senior thesis, portions of which she delivered at a national undergraduate conference and at a graduate conference on feminist theory at Florida State University, where she was the only undergraduate participant. Heather is now using that record of achievement to help her get into the Ph.D. program of her choice.
Perhaps it is best, as we usually do, to let Honors students speak for themselves. Here are the words of Westminster College Honors student and neuropsychology major Meghan Hamilton describing the opportunities that were opened up to her by an Honors summer research grant:
"Following the summer of my grant, a science professor at another institution heard about my experience and invited me to work in a neurobiology lab. I then applied for a competitive summer fellowship, and due to my research experience, I received a very well funded summer fellowship to work with an emergency care physician researching traumatic brain injury. I was also responsible for setting up an entire new laboratory for cognitive and motor testing for the Anticonvulsant Drug Development Program. I had to present my research to a large group of professors and professionals, and I was praised for my 'poise, stage presence, and ability to effectively communicate' to this intimidating crowd.