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Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - 12:45pm

The main hall of the Rotunda buzzed with conversation and excitement on April 24 as Mercy College prepared for the annual Honors Symposium, an event to celebrate scholarship and showcase the accomplishments of students in the Honors Program.

Some 80 honors students presented their independent projects, using academic poster formats, digital stories, and brochures to highlight their work. Covering a wide variety of disciplines, the topics ranged from hard science to the arts, from business to government, from sociological studies of prisoners to racial inequality.

Students were on hand to answer questions from faculty, family members and visitors who roamed the hall, taking in the impressive range of student achievement. A brief program, which included remarks from Honors Association co-presidents Brigitte DeSane and Cassie Rando and senior honors student Kristin Millard, culminated in a ceremony to honor and send off the graduating seniors.

“The symposium accomplishes several objectives,” said associate professor Irina Ellison, Program Head of Health Sciences and Co Director of the Honors Program. “Aside from the opportunity to showcase all the great work our students are doing is the opportunity to practice talking about their work with people outside of their discipline,” said Ellison. “This is a key communication skill. If you can’t explain your work to someone outside your field, you haven’t yet reached the level of fluency.” She added that the symposium, and all the work leading up to it, also prepares students for presenting at larger academic gatherings, such as the recent Northeast Regional Conference where two Mercy students presented.

Ideas for projects can emerge from anywhere, Ellison said — a classroom discussion, a hobby, or whatever piques a student’s interest. The student creates a “contract,” or independent learning project that propels them toward self-directed reading, research and preparation, with encouragement and guidance from a faculty mentor.

At the symposium, presentations were divided into two rounds and reviewed by a panel of faculty judges. All students received evaluations of their work, and the top scoring projects were later announced.

 “We encourage our honors program students to engage in three areas of the educational experience: scholarship, service to the community and leadership,” said Ellison. “The symposium, which encourages self-directed study, interdisciplinary exploration, experiential learning and collaboration, touches on all these areas. We are truly preparing students for lives of learning, and they are discovering how rewarding that can be.”

To hear the stories of four Mercy students honored at the symposium, click below:

Veronica Rivas and Davina Williams


 Kristin Millard



 Aqsa Khattak