Eric Zavinski – News Editor
Seattle hosted the 51st annual National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) conference this past October, in which students in honors programs and colleges from universities throughout the nation learned and presented original research.
Four students from Clarion University joined hundreds of others for five days of intellectual observation and presentation. Senior speech pathology major Megan Blashford, junior nursing major Taylor McClay, junior marketing major Andrew Skubisz and myself, a junior journalism major, presented research about living and growing in Clarion’s Honors Program.
Sessions were offered by the NCHC staff and faculty that covered topics ranging from mental wellness, managing growing programs, publications on social media, online courses and much more.
The first conference-wide event was titled City As Text, and featured small groups of visiting students and faculty visiting different neighborhoods and landmarks in Seattle in an effort to reflect and learn through observation, conversation and mental mapping how people live within the city, and how society has developed and is evolving.
Discussions about what was heard and seen were substantial facets of the conference, but all attendees were left listening yet audible with laughter when plenary speaker Sherman Alexie took the stage. The acclaimed orator and creative writer spoke of the complexities of diversity, tribal thinking and intellectual hunger that drove him to success in his life.
On the final full day of the NCHC conference, Blashford, McClay, Skubisz and myself, along with scores of other students, presented research and analysis in a variety of topics ranging from empirical surveys of honors program facets and studies in the natural sciences to coverage of themes in classic literature to art representing commentary on society.
An evening gala showcased four cultural acts of stimulating talent. First, the Chien Hong Lion Dance Troupe flooded into the grand ballroom of the conference hotel, followed by local Native American singers and dancers.
The Portland Taiko Drummers pounded their way into the hearts of the students and faculty finishing dessert. Their rhythms were so loud, forceful and tightly choreographed that one could feel the beats resounding in one’s chest.
Local cover band, Gold Digger, finished off the night with a two-set performance headlining the ballroom full of dancing students. For the Clarion students and our new friends, substantial education, entertainment and the everyday life of Seattle provided a lot for them to take back to colleges and universities throughout the country.