Honor students present research projects in Hawaii

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While the majority of Mercer students were returning to classes in Macon, four Seniors from Mercer’s Honors Program were attending the 10th annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities in Waikiki, a neighborhood of Honolulu, HI.
Mercer’s Honors Program sponsored four students, Sarah Stitt, Kimberly Campbell, Alicia Landrum, and Mercedes Mixon to present their senior research projects. Dr. John Thomas Scott, a history professor and Chair of the Honors Program, accompanied the seniors on the conference.
The conference was held during Jan 10th to the 13th. Kimberly Campbell, a Senior History Major, said that the conference was “an interdisciplinary conference open to undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty members, but our group of four undergraduates were in the minority.” Mercedes Mixon, a Senior Latin major, mentioned that since “the conference was for the arts & humanities,” the range of topics was broad.

“Presentations in a single session were loosely connected. Some session topics included foreign language, dance, religion, history, and literature,” continued Mixon.
In addition to the broad range of topics, including a keynote address about traditional hula dancing, the people presenting were from various countries which added to the variety. Some of the countries in attendance included Canada, the UK, and Sweden.
Reflecting on the experience, Campbell says, “The trip was an incredible experience. Beyond just seeing iconic parts of Oahu, such as the North Shore, the chance to talk to scholars from all over the country and the world about every subject imaginable was incredible.”
Mixon reflected, “I definitely have more confidence in myself as a presenter. Students earning their masters, Ph.D. candidates, and professors dominated the conference. This was disconcerting at first, but in the end, we were able to see examples of well and poorly constructed papers and presentations from [students of graduate schools] and professors, a tradeoff for not having a large number of undergraduate students and advisors to offer advice on our own projects.”
During the conference, the four Mercer students had an opportunity to present research they have been doing as a part of the requirements for the Honors Program. Mixon presented her “research on Ascanius, the son of the Trojan Prince Aeneas,” a Latin-centered project.
She “compared the legend of Ascanius as told by the Roman historian Livy in his work Ab Urbe Condita and the Roman poet Vergil’s Aeneid.” Campbell presented her project entitled, “Fictions of Gender: Conceptions of Manliness in Antebellum Pirate Tales.”
As a sophomore, Campbell was required by the History Department to start working on research. After the experiences she has had, she “would encourage all undergraduates to start research at the beginning of their junior year at the very latest. Most departments are just waiting for students to ask how they can get started, and the professors are more than willing to help.”
Likewise, Mixon recommends “that undergraduates complete and present research within their majors. It’s a great way to learn more about a particular subject that interests you that a regular class does not have the time to discuss at all or in great detail. Research also helps to prepare you for graduate school,” if you choose to go that route after undergraduate work.