This past weekend, honors program students and faculty from higher education institutions across both Virginia and West Virginia traveled to Longwood University to attend the 2023 Virginias Collegiate Honors Council (VCHC) Conference, with the theme of ‘Global Connections.’ Representing 20 percent of all research presentations at the Conference was a group of Marymount University Honors students, with nine Saints presenting a variety of research projects that have connections to current societal problems and concerns.
“I am proud of the quality of research our Marymount Honors students presented at the VCHC Conference. Despite a number of them only being in their second year, their work was on par with that of seniors from other universities,” said Dr. Stacy Lopresti-Goodman, Director of Marymount’s Honors program. “They were very engaged and represented our University very well.”
These Marymount Honors students presented research on the following topics during the Conference:
- Natali Artiga Mora (Sophomore majoring in Graphic and Media Design) – “Bilingual Language Acquisition in Children”
- Adaly Asencio Veza (Sophomore majoring in Biochemistry) – “COVID-19 Vaccination Rates and Racial Demographics in the United States”
- Blen Begashaw (Sophomore majoring in Computer Science) – “Data Breach in the Modern World: A Sectoral Analysis”
- Delaney Carey (Senior double-majoring in Psychology and Criminal Justice) – “Public Perceptions of Rehabilitative Resources for Justice-Involved Youth”
- Porter Cather (Senior majoring in Psychology and Biology for a dual degree) – “Factors That Influence Attitudes Towards Animal Experimentation”
- Isabella Ochalik (Junior majoring in Biochemistry) – “Application of Wearables in Cardiovascular Disease”
- MacKenzy Robbins (Sophomore majoring in Biology) – “Are Canine Tick-Borne Illnesses More Prevalent in Urban Areas?”
- Brenna Robinson (Senior majoring in Psychology) – “Media Consumption and Stigma Towards Schizophrenia”
- Stefanie Socher (Senior majoring in Psychology) – “The Relationship Between Exposure to Entertainment Media and Beliefs About Autism Spectrum Disorder”
In total, 14 universities participated in the Conference, with 44 students making presentations. In addition to research presentations, the two-day event featured business meetings, organizational elections and sessions for professional development.
“Representing Marymount on a statewide level at the VCHC Conference provides me with the opportunity to connect with my peers, exchange ideas and build networking connections. Sharing insights and having intellectual discussions is an essential part of innovation and development,” Ochalik explained. “Being part of the Honors community encourages me to push beyond my comfort zone and expand my research into new fields. With the support of the Marymount Honors faculty, I was able to present a functioning prototype of my proposed model system at this year’s Conference. This unique approach to the project was not only a testimony to the intellectual curiosity encouraged at Marymount, but also a stepping stone into the possibilities for the future.”
Dr. Lopresti-Goodman currently serves as the VCHC Faculty President, and participated in the conference planning committee while also presiding over the opening and closing ceremonies, business meeting and awards ceremony. She will continue on in her leadership role next year.
Begashaw will work alongside here in the upcoming year as the VCHC Student Vice President, traveling with Dr. Lopresti-Goodman to the organization’s fall conference at Emory and Henry College for professional development sessions and to start planning the 2024 VCHC Spring Research Conference. She will also be responsible for welcoming all students at next year’s research conference with a speech during the opening ceremony.
“As an international Honors student, who is involved in a number of clubs on campus, the secretary of our Student Government Association, along with her new role serving VCHC, she embodies all of the principles of a Marymount University education – intellectual curiosity, a global perspective and service to others,” Dr. Lopresti-Goodman added. “I couldn’t be prouder!”
“As a researcher in the technology field, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my findings at the Conference and to connect with other scholars,” Begashaw said. “Being elected as the Student VP is an honor, and I look forward to using this platform to advocate for student interests and continue promoting the use of research conferences for students.”
During the Conference, students also engaged in a service project which involved packing hygiene kits for individuals affected by natural disasters.