MSJC Honors Students Shine at Annual Research Conference at the University of Irvine

April 3, 2015

By MSJC student Shawnees Peacock, Talon Staff Writer

IRVINE, CA - Three honors students from Mt. San Jacinto College received prestigious scholarships for the research projects they presented at a statewide conference held on March 28, 2015 at the University of Irvine.

The MSJC students were among the 400 California community college students who attended the 15th annual Honors Transfer Council of California Student Research Conference for California Community Colleges hosted by the University of Irvine. The students represented 31 of the 112 college across the state. A total of 13 students presented at the conference.

Blaine Novak Pilch of Wildomar won second place and $250 in prize money in the Physical/Life Sciences category for his poster presentation titled Replacing Synthetic Fertilizer to Revolutionize Agriculture.

Kylie Gardner of Hemet and Maria Jose Lopez of Warner Springs each received the Exemplary Achievement Award. A total of 28 Exemplary Achievement Awards were given at the conference on March 28. Students must be nominated by the honors program from their college to be eligible for this award.

Two $250 cash prize awards were given to Gardner and Lopez for their hard work. Gardner spoke on the technique of Gender-Neutral Parenting, while Lopez’s oral presentation focused on the rarely mentioned genocide against the Ixil Mayans that occurred during the 1980s in Guatemala.

The HTCC Student Research Conference gives community college students from around the state that are involved in honors program at their institutions the unique opportunity to present the results of the research that they have completed for their honors course.

The HTCC is comprised of the directors of the Honors Programs at community colleges around the state.

“It gives me a great sense of pride to see students from Mt. San Jacinto College’s Honors Program present their research at the HTCC Student Research Conference at UCI,” said Professor and Honors Program Coordinator Christina Yamanaka. “Their presentations are the culmination of a year-long process of researching their topic, organizing a presentation, and then preparing their work for an academic conference.”

This year’s event was organized by the 2015 HTCC Conference Committee. The members of the conference committee oversee all aspects of the conference. Professor Erik Ozolins was the HTCC President Emeritus and Conference Program chair, Professor Yamanaka, was the Panel Coordinator and Conference Program Advisor.

Five MSJC students, Erick Contreras, Casey Jacobi, Chris Powers, Blaine Novak Pilch, and Nicole Spagnolo, created posters to present the results of their research projects during the first session of the conference.

MSJC students who did 12-minute individual oral presentations of their research were Trisha Felix, Kylie Gardner, Tamara Russell, Matt DeRemer, Nate Pavon, Jason Botello, Maria Josè Lopez, and Vanesse Hiten.

In order to present at the conference, students must submit their research projects to be rigorously evaluated and screened by the honors faculty by December each year.

MSJC student Nate Pavon, of San Jacinto, did an oral presentation titled Americas Great Catalyst: Music from The Harlem Renaissance. His presentation focused on music’s roots in the Harlem Renaissance, its ability to enact social change and how it impacted the cultural identity of society throughout the 20th century.

“Academically speaking this event is something that I hope to humbly brag about when I apply for scholarships,” said Pavon. “I now officially have a published paper so now when I apply to master’s programs this is something that I will reflect on and talk about and how I had professors that encouraged and guided me throughout this process. MSJC has set the standard for what I want for my education.”

Each presenter had a faculty mentor to guide them along the process of conducting research on their chosen topic and provided their mentees with the tools to give a successful formal presentation. The faculty mentors for 2015 were Jim Davis, Maria Lopez, Erik Ozolins, Garry Raley, Alma Ramirez, Nick Reeves, Christina Yamanaka, Ted Blake, Michael Plotkin, and Charise Louie.

MSJC student Ashley Kraus was an attendee at the conference and the students Stephanie Pomales, Jordan Browning, Johanna Kristine, Rose Alagon, Benjamin Pisa, Deidre Barriger, Param Tiwari, Rumbidzai Mushonga, Miriam Gonzalez, Tiffani Jones and Alyssa Duro served as volunteers at the conference.

“Our student presenters, our volunteers, and the faculty and administrators who support them, are part of a fantastic team who do an amazing job of representing our college every year at the HTCC conference.  Being part of this team motivates me as a researcher, instructor, and as an Honors Director for Mt. San Jacinto College,” Yamanaka said. 

MSJC Students Receive Scholarships at Annual Honors Conference 2015