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Mercy Students and Faculty Shine at a Major Meeting of Honors Program Educators

Photo of Irina Ellison

Mercy College was well represented at the annual meeting of the Northeast Regional Honors Council (NRHC), an organization of students, faculty and administrators dedicated to the encouragement and support of undergraduate honors learning.

Dr. Irina Ellison, associate professor of Health Science, chair of the Department of Natural Sciences, and co-director of the Honors Program is also President of the NRHC and 2021 Conference Co-Chair. Ellison gave the Presidential Address, a highly regarded annual tradition at the conference, which was held for the first time as a virtual event from March 30 through April 11.

Mercy student Dzifa Amexo ’21 gave an oral presentation during one of the conference breakout sessions. Her talk was titled “Do Black Lives Matter to Corporate America? Brand Activism, Woke Washing, and Representation in the Boardroom.”  

Ellison, whose term as NRHC President ends this year, spoke about visiting Tiananmen Square, the scene of a 1989 massacre of peaceful demonstrators. Accompanied by her parents, themselves immigrants who fought against European Communism, 9-year-old Irina was moved by the signs of bloodshed that had occurred just two months before. Few could have predicted that, within a few years of her family’s visit, the Berlin Wall had fallen, and the Soviet Union had dissolved.

“I learned that the world can change quickly and dramatically, right before our eyes,” Ellison said in her remarks, drawing lessons for the assembled honor students and educators. “A group of young people had gathered to try to solve a problem together and made a statement so loud it echoed around the world.” She concluded, “I implore you to keep collaborating and partnering, keep crossing divides, keep questioning and questing.”