Three Southwestern Michigan College students presented at the American Sociological Association’s 114th conference “Engaging Social Justice for a Better World ”Aug. 8-13 in New York City.
“Ours were the only students from a community college accepted into the Honors Program,” instructor Dr. Barbara Karwacinski said. “We were also the only institution with three (of the 45) students admitted.”
SMC presented alongside private research universities such as Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Tufts in Massachusetts and Wake Forest in North Carolina, Amherst College, the University of California Berkeley, California State University Long Beach and Canada’s University of British Columbia.
In addition to participating in Honors Program activities, Alyssa Mast, AnnaJane Musser and Jacob Campbell completed professional-development certificates by attending six additional conference sessions.
SMC’s delegation stayed at the New York Hilton. Sessions also occurred across the street at The Sheraton. “Even though our days were very busy,” Karwacinski said, “the last day we found time to explore.”
“Seeing the World Trade Center monument, Chinatown, SoHo, Times Square, Rockefeller Center and ‘King Kong’ on Broadway was an amazing experience that added to an already great national conference,” Mast said. Mast, of Eau Claire, majors in elementary education with a minor in mathematics, English and early childhood education. She had never been to New York City before.
“I definitely tell people I was able to go in the first place to present my research at the American Sociological Association,” Mast said. “The reaction I received was very rewarding. I was the only one from my roundtable to receive my presider’s business card and an offer to reach out to her whenever I need anything. My peers at the roundtable responded with a great discussion and offered ideas on how to further my research” examining effects of alcoholism and drug addiction on subsequent generations which suffer from stress-related health problems such as migraines, improper social behavior, anxiety, depression and delinquency.
Karwacinski’s students write research essays every semester for Principles of Sociology, but “this was the first time we submitted them” to be chosen from more than 2,000 domestic and international papers. ASA e-mailed afterward, “We really enjoyed having your students in the Honors Program. It set a really good precedent for other community college students to participate.”
Edwardsburg’s Campbell, who graduated from SMC in May and plans to pursue a research career, presented to the American Chemical Society in Orlando in April.
“It was my first time in New York and definitely a great experience professionally and personally,” Campbell said. “It’s hard to compare New York and Orlando because they are two totally different worlds. It is such great experience to have under my belt, not only presenting my research, but networking with students, professors and professionals from around the world, which I was lucky enough to do at both conferences.”
Using the autobiographical method of currere, Campbell explored his experience in primary and secondary educational settings. His findings “shed light on the importance of recognizing students’ personal narratives as a valuable source for researching the effects of the teaching-learning process on a student’s holistic growth.”
“I received some very intriguing questions during and after my presentation from professors and students alike, which I found extremely gratifying. Most other students are further along in their educations than me. Many said they are applying to or attending graduate school this fall,” Campbell said. “New York City sights are amazing. There is just so much to see, so much diversity. I’ve always heard about the melting-pot of cultures, but experiencing it first-hand is something I will always remember. Even though we spent a great deal of time in lectures and meetings, it was still a lot of fun.”
Musser, of Vandalia, studies visual arts. She researched “The Impact of Subculture and Counterculture on Generation Y.”
“I came home with new inspiration and eyes opened to the world around me,” Musser said. “I do not remember 9/11, but it was still quite sobering to see its effects in person. Chinatown and SoHo were a labyrinth of colors and people — more than I have seen in one place before. Broadway was more than I hoped. The music and dancing were breathless.”
“My presentation was very well received, although my fellow students were not familiar with the counterculture,” she said. “Table presiders, however, were very interested and asked me questions pertaining to Woodstock. They told me they were very impressed with how professional I was and that it was very interesting. I am so thankful to everyone who made this trip come together, from my instructor to the school for sponsoring this trip. It was one of the best experiences I have ever had!”