The Senior Honors Project Interdisciplinary Conference was held in Mihaylo Hall throughout the weekend to showcase the yearlong projects of Cal State Fullerton’s senior university honor students.
“Honor students have a ‘mandatory senior honors project’ that they must complete in order to get the honors distinction on their diplomas,” said Sandra Perez, Ph.D., director of the University Honors Program. “This presentation is where they share (their projects) with the community, their family and their faculty.”
This is the second year the presentations have been in a conference format. In the past, student presentations were scheduled individually in 30-minute slots throughout the week, but Perez said this created issues like poor attendance and difficulty in accessing the campus.
The arrangement was changed into a conference to make it easier for students.
“It’s hard to get on and off of campus, so by running it as a conference on a weekend, it just makes access a lot easier,” Perez said. “There’s less scheduling conflicts, and we’re able to get families in.”
This change also gave students the opportunity to add to their resumes that they had participated in professional conference, she said.
During the three-day event, each student had 20 minutes total, 15 minutes dedicated to presenting their projects and the remaining five for Q&A.
The conference is considered interdisciplinary because it incorporated the health science, engineering, child development, business, natural sciences, communicative disorders, and creative and performing arts fields. All of the colleges were represented, she said.
“(The University Honors Program) is an important space on campus in terms of interdisciplinary learning and bringing a community together,” Perez said. “It’s a nice space to dialogue and learn and think about issues from multiple disciplines.”
What sets the university honors project apart from a regular research project within a major is that it isn’t bound to any particular discipline, Perez said.
“We had a student who wrote a movie script and then he illustrated the character for his movie, bridging together the part of illustration with script writing, which you can’t really do within either one of those majors but you can do in the university honors program as a combined project,” she said.
Even though the scope of yearlong projects were more common in graduate school, it was still a great opportunity for students to tackle long-term projects, Perez said.
A faculty member and two students were awarded after the conference. The recipient of the Outstanding Mentor Award went to Timothy Henry, Ph.D.
Out of nine nominated students, Miguel Baltazar received the Outstanding Senior Honors Project Award. Outstanding Service awards also went to Monica Vu and Kaitlynne Kim for their contribution to the program and leadership skills.
“I come away being humbled by the students’ accomplishments,” Perez said. “They’re so passionate about their work and it really shows, so there’s a deep sense of pride and admiration for the work that our students are completing.”