Honors program has unique opportunity

*CORRECTION: Komalpreet Batth was misquoted in the original version of this story. The correct quote is “A lot of people don’t even know that’s just your sun sign. They don’t know that there’s moon, there’s a rising, there’s a whole birth chart, like how the planets, the stars were aligned from the moment you were born.” *Batth was misgendered and prefers she/they pronouns.

Honors students writing papers and speaking with teachers are one thing, but getting to present abstract research projects to a conference full of professionals in their field is an entirely different opportunity.

That is what eight Pierce College students will have the chance to do at The University of California Irvine Conference on April 6.

The Honors Transfer Program has selected 8 Pierce College students to attend the Honor Transfer Council of California (HTCC) Student Research Conference at UC Irvine on April 6.

Having an excellent GPA doesn’t always prepare you for your career.

According to Honors Director Yeprem Davoodian, the HTCC is an important opportunity that allows the student to get the first-hand experience regarding research in any field that they want even if it is not directly coordinated with their major.

“They have the benefit to work within their field of study so they can have more depth and scope of what they’re studying,” Davoodian said.

Sarkis Chrikjian, a Biology major, and one of the honor students presenting at the conference, is interested in tackling the topic regarding the Opioid crisis which has caused many deaths in the US.

“In the future, I want to be a doctor so I wanted to dive into medical ethics, and I don’t think the blame should be for the pharmaceutical companies but also the physicians,” Chrikjian said.

On the other hand, not all the topics that students are presenting are necessarily related to their majors.

Honors Student, Komalpreet Batth is unsure to which career to choose when she transfers, but with Batth’s topic on Astrology, “A Belief System,” she expects to make people understand that this old belief is more than a generic statement.

“A lot of people don’t even know that’s just your sun sign. They don’t know that there’s moon, there’s a rising, there’s a whole birth chart, like how the planets, the stars were aligned from the moment you were born,” Batth said. “Astrology is more than that.”*

Jared Brown, mechanical engineering major, is preparing to present his research about how race has influenced the wealth inequality of African-Americans after taking a honors class on race and ethnicity.

“This topic is part of my identity and this class provided a new perspective looking at race and ethnicity that previous history classes didn’t get to,” Brown said.

Students who have presented in one or more conferences are given the opportunity to compete, to apply to selective transfer schools and for scholarships grants as well.

In 2018, there were only around five students who attended the conference and this year, this group has grown, according to Biology Major Anahita Karimi Bidhend who is presenting for the second time at the HTCC conference.

“Other schools brought in groups of 50-60 students to present and we were probably the smallest one but now has grown a little,” Bidhend said.

This conference is not only an achievement for the students but for Pierce College too as it gains more recognition within the other prestigious schools in California so they can expand their research program.

“We want to advocate for more research opportunities for undergraduate students and through the honors program, we can be able to send them to other conferences where they can present,” Davoodian said.    

Honors Program Faculty member and Sociology Professor Shigueru Tsuha have had an influential impact on students who are presenting in this conference, guiding them in every step of this presentation.

“This is not about doing a good or a bad job is about getting the experience and the idea of what is like so next time you can do it better,” Tsuha said.

Students attending the conference are currently working with the Honors Program faculty members to reinforce their proposal abstracts, which will be evaluated on the quality of critical thinking, originality, relevance and other criteria.