14:48 PM

UHD Students to Present at 56th Annual National Collegiate Honors Council Conference in Orlando

University of Houston-Downtown

University of Houston-Downtown Honors Program students Tooba Narejo, Gladys Chan and Fikir Tadesse have been selected as presenters during the 56th annual conference to be held by the National Collegiate Honors Council at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort near Orlando from Oct. 27 to 31. 

The conference highlights student and faculty research presentations from across the nation while providing training and development for Honors Program administrators and staff. The conference theme, “Reimagining Honors: Past, Present, Future,” examines the ways the global pandemic has inspired educators and higher education professionals to reimagine teaching, learning, and community building within education, higher education, and honors education. It also poses the question "How do we take the lessons learned from this time, personally, professionally, and for our honors programs and colleges, to imagine a future we could not have envisioned just a few years ago?"

For the first time, NCHC has secured a lineup of multiple speakers to engage attendees from all walks of honor. Thomas Riddle, founder, and lead consultant of Imagineering Education will open the conference with his experience creating immersive, hands-on learning experiences based on Disney’s Imagineering process. Dr. Kathryn Thornton, a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and former NASA astronaut with over 975 hours in space, will lead an exploratory education series framed with City as Text™ pedagogy. Dr. Thao Do will present a lunchtime session and follow-up workshop on the connections between imagination, creativity, and intelligence. With National Geographic LIVE, Dr. Mireya Mayor, primatologist, and wildlife correspondent will take the Saturday afternoon plenary stage to share tales of her adventures in field expedition while studying wildlife and habitat issues across the planet. 

Narejo and Chan have been selected to present their session entitled, “Virtually Engaged Communities-Strive for Equitable Societies and Environmental Justice” on Oct. 29. The pandemic has limited social interaction; however, the virtual aspect has facilitated infinite opportunities for community engagement. This presentation will cover how UHD honors students successfully collaborated with community partners like Epilepsy Foundation and Citizens Environmental coalition to assist underserved communities. Narejo and Chan also presented at the Gulf South Summit conference under the internship program of Center of Community Engagement and Service Learning CCESL. Narejo also earned the "Student of the Year Award" this year from UHD's Honors Program. 

Honors students Tyler Good, and Luis Abete also had presentations accepted at the conference, however, they will be unable to attend. 

Interim UHD Honors Program Director Dr. Catherine Howard, who will also attend, said, “Not only is attending this event a great opportunity for these UHD honors students, but it is very exciting that they can represent UHD at a national conference. Their excellent work is being validated at the highest level. We are so proud of them.”  

The national submission process for the NCHC annual conference is highly selective, with hundreds of students and faculty submitting proposals each year.  

“A presentation at the NCHC conference provides each individual with a unique opportunity to showcase the work being done in honors across the globe. However, each presenter also impacts the culture of the network, providing other honors colleagues a chance to discuss the topic, exploring collaborations, research, and innovation,” said Mary Beth Rathe, NCHC Executive Director. 

While in Florida, Narejo, Chan and Tadesse will have the opportunity to network with other honors students and faculty from across the country, celebrate the unique community created by honors education, and take advantage of the unique surroundings provided by the Walt Disney World Resort location.  

The National Collegiate Honors Council is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and enhance the community of educational institutions, professionals and students who participate in collegiate honors education around the world. NCHC members total nearly 800 institutions from the United States and around the world. Professional and organizational affiliate memberships are also available. More information can be found at nchchonors.org.