Neumann University provided a quaint and inspiring setting for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for Higher Education’s 2017 Honors Conference on March 25. Students from the eight SEPCHE schools arrived at Neumann early to present academic research, artwork and music.
Students, professors and guests entered the auditorium, and a sense of anticipation similar to what is felt before a sporting event or concert hung in the air. As the opening remarks began, followed by music performances, gatherers prepared themselves for a day of intellectual conversation and stimulating research presentations.
Rachel Harmon, a senior Education major, presented a research thesis about the role of resilience and emotional support for elementary school students. She says, “This year’s SEPCHE conference was one of my favorites. I’ve presented at four different conferences, including this one, but felt more supported and encouraged this year than in others. I think being a senior helps; I’m much more comfortable presenting my work now than I have been in the past.”
One of the characteristics of this year’s conference was the wide range of participants’ ages as well as the varied topics of research. SEPCHE provides a chance for freshmen students to begin presenting academic research, while simultaneously giving older students the chance to hone their public speaking skills, as well as their ability to defend a research thesis or hypothesis. The topics of study were diverse, and the presentations were grouped in ways which either streamlined the focus on one specific discipline, i.e. research in chemistry, or joined together topics which academics would not usually experience within the same strata. For instance, one session included research on the Nazi Eugenics movement, funding in public education and post-crisis response to natural disasters.
For the SEPCHE artists and musicians, this conference provided a chance to present original work. Paintings lined the walls of Neumann’s conference rooms, giving SEPCHE guests the impression of visiting a real art gallery. Musical presentations included voice, violin, piano, and guitar — all of which showcased either original compositions or thoroughly studied pieces of music.
For many CHC students, attending the SEPCHE conference is an annual trip, so those who were unable to go this year expressed regret about having to miss the 2017 presentations. Lydia DiMattia, a senior in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program, says, “I so wish I were able to go this year! I was planning on it and had a paper that I was eager to present and share, but I couldn’t go. I love going to SEPCHE every year because I get to hear about such interesting research being done in disciplines that I don’t normally get to study.”
The 2017 SEPCHE conference allowed presenters and observers alike to experience the thrills of academia. For those preparing to graduate next month, this last SEPCHE experience reminded seniors of how proud they should be of their achievements. For everyone else, the 2017 conference granted an opportunity to prove the never-ending exceptionality of Chestnut Hill College students.
— Brigid MacArthur-Thompson ’17