Quartet of honors students present research in Atlanta

Eric Zavinski – Editor-in-Chief

Four students attended the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) annual conference to present research in their fields of study this November.

This year, the conference was hosted in Atlanta, Georgia, making the visit a unique trip for the four Clarion honors students attending: Taylor McClay, Katie Gannon, Hope Zimmerman and Eric Zavinski.

Before the group presented research findings on their topics of nursing, speech pathology and educators’ perspectives on ‘fake news’ and modern journalism, they explored the city as part of a City as Text program in which honors students explore specific sections of the host city to discover the culture therein.

The plenary speaker for this year’s conference was Bryan Stevenson, a human and civil rights champion and acclaimed lawyer. He spoke about the power people have to change the world and how broken individuals who have committed crimes can be redeemed.

“Because I’m broken too,” he said near the end of his keynote address, commenting on why he represents the people whom he fights for. “It is the broken among us who have the greatest capacity to change the world.”

Stevenson outlined four ways citizens can further understand their fellow human. He suggested that one must become proximate, meaning that every individual will have to place himself or herself in situations new and sometimes intimidating in order to come to terms with what different people go through.

The second order of business, Stevenson noted, was to examine the narratives underlying policies such as the death penalty and change them if necessary. He urged the honors audience to seek to understand the human element behind every criminal story.

He mentioned that during his work he witnessed policy makers creating the idea that some children were not and should not be seen as children and were therefore tried and convicted as adults for their crimes in some courts throughout the country.

While preexisting narratives may seem bleak, Stevenson made sure his audience knew that his third point was to remain hopeful.

Lastly, he spoke of the importance of putting oneself in uncomfortable situations. Stevenson said, “I’ve got nothing against comfort,” but he also mentioned that anyone from lawmakers to the average citizens who take themselves out of their comfort zones have the power to positively impact the world around them.

Other speakers and presenters – honors students and faculty alike – filled the five-day conference with original findings. Next year’s NCHC conference will be hosted in Boston, Massachusetts and will include more Clarion honors students and others hosted from around the nation to present original, substantial research.

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