Seniors Finish Honors Presentations

Victor Zheng

Presentations are underway for seniors in Honors Programs. The presentations are an opportunity for students to showcase their skill in the form of a research project of their own design. Honors students spend both fall and spring semesters on their projects, and each presentation serves as a culmination of year-long research and writing.

Ron Cheng, assistant professor of economics, is this year’s Honors coordinator for Economics students.

“Once every couple of weeks, the entire group of students gets together,” Cheng explained. “They describe their project to the faculty, and the faculty offer their advice and comments.”

Honors projects are very open-ended; the students choose and construct their individual projects as they see fit, with help from one or two faculty members. The process affords students and faculty more individual interaction.

“This is a very broad program,” Cheng said, “which allows [students] a lot of flexibility to choose the topic that interests them.  What generally happens is that as they’re formulating their thesis topic, they tend to find faculty members [with whom] they have an mutual interest, and usually those one or two faculty members focus their attention on a couple of students.”

This project gives students an opportunity to both experience research and defend a point of view in front of an audience. Since many Honors students will attend graduate school, the program is a preview of the thesis format and the type of work students can expect after they complete their undergraduate degrees.

“We like to think this is kind of like an experience of pre-grad school,” Cheng said.  “It’s an experience where you’re supposed to be doing your own research, talking about your own research [and] defending your own research. … It hopefully prepares [students] for future research in grad school or maybe their jobs.”

Students involved in Honors presentations have a diverse range of projects, but they share the same goal — they seek to present their ideas comprehensively. Although many Honors students are unsure of their post graduate plans, their project goals are clear.

“The nature of the program is that we all do some research and learn something about the world even if it’s through the stylized lens of a model,” said Isaac Green, a participating senior. “We hope that even if we’re just undergrads doing a research paper, … we can contribute something to the broader scope of knowledge.”

Matt Senter, another Honors student, added, “I’m not sure if I want [go to grad school] or not, but it’s definitely a great experience with a lot of participation from the professors, and I think if I did [attend] grad school, it would be good preparation.”

Despite the stress of the project, Green said that he was happy he went through the process.

“It was a good experience and we all learned some things, even if there were some moments that were a little nerve-wracking,” Green said.  “There were moments of struggle, and I definitely started not really knowing what I was going to do and I felt a little aimless, … but I think a lot of the process was going through that and learning what makes a good research project.”