11th annual Honors Consortium to feature student research

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Ashley Adams, a senior graphic design student, will present research on company logos and branding. (Courtesy of Ashley Adams)
Ashley Adams, a senior graphic design student, will present research on company logos and branding. (Courtesy of Ashley Adams)

More than 50 students from California State University honors programs will present original research for attendees as part of the 11th annual Honors Consortium on Saturday in the Titan Residence Halls.

The event provides an open forum for students to showcase projects and papers from a variety of interdisciplinary studies and also allows for faculty members to figure out new ways to improve the program.

“It’s a very friendly conference but highly professional,” said Susan Jacobsen, Ph.D., director of the Honors Program at Cal State Fullerton. “We have freshmen who have no conference experience and very little academic experience, they’ll be presenting … all the way up through the seniors who are generally presenting their senior honors projects or thesis.”

For Ashley Adams, a senior graphic design major, the consortium will serve as her platform to deliver over two years worth of research regarding visual brand identity.

“The visual brand identity for a corporation is everything, their name, their logo, their slogan, their color scheme, everything that the consumer sees,” she said. “It’s in our life 24/7 and we’re surrounded by all that.”

Adams initially came up with her research topic when she spotted a Monster Energy Drink delivery truck with a scratched “M” logo as she was walking her dog.

“I was thinking like ‘well, how did this person come up with (the logo), why is it so effective, why do so many people drink their drinks?’” she said.

Adams, who over the course of her research has interviewed 12 designers in the field, points to a criteria that all major companies use in determining the aesthetics of their logo.

“There’s certain design aspects you have to remember when creating a logo,” she said.  “The logo is ultimately like an iceberg, the identity is being seen at first and that’s the tip of the iceberg.”

The presentation, Adams said, is meant to help inform students about the inner workings of marketing and advertising.

“I hope that (attendees) become more aware in the end and they’re more conscious about what it actually means when a logo is being presented,” she said.

Jessica Franey, a sociology major, is also trying to promote understanding in her research. Her presentation, titled “#WhiteGirlProblems,” offers academic and autobiographical accounts of what it means to have white privilege in today’s society.

“Not everyone is going to try to change the world,” she said. “I just really want to raise awareness and help people recognize the way that racial inequality still exists.”

To contextualize inequalities, Franey’s 90-page project dives deep into the problems that plague three separate institutions. These include an academic examination of socioeconomic status, as well as the educational and employment fields.

She has read more than 40 publications to provide validity to her research on the conflict of embedded racism that she believes is often overlooked. She has also spent time looking at two different high schools that show racial disparities still exist.

“As far as my research it’s all peer review, scholarly journals, published textbooks and published novels or books,” she said. “It has taken me an entire year of actual dedicated work researching, but I’ve been familiar with the topic since my sophomore year.”

To complement the academic portion of her research, Franey puts forward her own personal experiences to show how she has been adversely affected in her ways of thinking by her own white privilege.

“The hardest part of this project is admitting the ways that I am biased and the ways that society has influenced my behaviors, talking about my views before the research and what they are now; admitting things that might make me look bad, unfortunately,” Franey said.

Although the negative emotions are a way for Franey to reach out to the intended audience, the consortium is intended to display what CSUF has to offer in a positive light.

“I think Cal State Fullerton often gets the reputation of being one of those commuter campuses where people come and then people go home,” said Emily Leung, an organizer of the conference. “I think that this conference is a great showcase of what the potential of a Cal State Fullerton or a Cal State student is capable of doing and what we have already accomplished.”

There are over 650 students enrolled in the Honors Program at CSUF and over 4,000 honors students across all CSU campuses, according to the Honors Program website. The consortium will also honor the late Michael Flacchman, Ph.D., who founded the honors program at Cal State Bakersfield.

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