The SEPA 2018 annual conference was the first time I showcased my original research on a poster. There is a common understanding in the academic world that poster presentations are the most casual and easy part of any conference. This understanding did not stop me from being excited or anxious as I drove to Charleston. My poster was scheduled to be in the third and last poster session, which means I had plenty of time to not only fret over my knowledge of my own research but also attend the other poster sessions to get an idea of what was coming my way.
It took me all of five minutes, after I entered the first session, to realise that I was in the soup. Here was a room packed with people from various sub-fields of psychology, with different interests, and belonging to a wide variety of backgrounds. While it was overwhelming to be amidst the products of so many research initiatives, my anxiety transformed with each poster into an appreciation of the opportunity that I received through the support of the Honors Program at UT.
I learned a tremendous amount about the current research avenues of Psychology from just being in the presence of scholars and fellow college students who presented their research or led a discussion group at the conference. Moreover, I was able to visit some of the interesting historic and natural sites that Charleston has to offer. The Honors Program encouraged my endeavour to develop my own research and helped me achieve my goal to present at a conference, for which I am incredibly grateful.
Honors student Bailey McQueen was recently featured in a Tampa Bay Times article on the homeless in Tampa Bay. She occasionally helps her father, John McQueen, dispose of the ashes of homeless individuals whose remains have not been claimed by family in the Gulf of Mexico.
Honors Council President, Carla Shapira, was recently featured on the front page of UT. The primary focus of the article was on Carla’s interest in emotional intelligence and its connection to leadership. The article also noted how that interest aligned with her participation in the annual George C. Marshall Leadership Seminar at Fort Leavenworth, KS. The article also described Carla’s future plans in the Army.
On Thursday, March 1st, Dr. Vanessa Rukholm, of UT’s Department of Languages and Linguists, presented, “I can’t get you out of my head: popular music and second language learning.” Dr. Rukholm discussed some of the history of music and noted that music has long been an important element of human culture. The presentation also explored language acquisition and then combined the two, culminating in a discussion of how language may help facilitate second language learning.
Things are going great over here in Oxford. The tutorials I am taking are Community Ecology and Marine Vertebrate Zoology and I love both of them. With my Community Ecology tutorial, my tutor is having me do research to study the distribution of two butterflies that are native to the UK. We are using mathematical models to determine if distance affects the competition between the species. In my marine vertebrate zoology tutorial, some of the topics I have explored are life in the deep sea and how the vertebrates have evolved to live in the sea. My tutors push me to think outside the box or in my case, think outside the submarine, to make connections that I had never even begun to think about.
In addition to school, I have been able to do a few extracurricular activities as well. I took a trip to London to visit Westminister. I was able to see the Abbey, Trafalgar Square, and the beautiful Buckingham Palace. I also have taken a trip to visit Cambridge, which is also known as “the other place” to see how it differs from the bustling city of Oxford. While there is a competition between which University is better, I think both have qualities that make them equally great.
One thing that is great about Oxford (and many of the cities in the UK) is that most of the museums are free, so when I need to take a quick break from studying I can pop into a museum without having to spend the whole day there. My favorite museum I have visited so far is the History of Science museum. They have a wide variety of different tools they used to study Science, Mathematics, and Physics in prior times and they show how the tools developed into the ones we use today.
My favorite extracurricular I have done so far while here in Oxford is joining the rowing team at Christ Church. I should inform you that I have never done rowing before coming here, so it was a very tough few practices (and many sore days after) as I had to learn how to row from scratch and my body had to adjust to using different muscles. However, I have loved the challenge of learning this new skill and it has been a great way to meet the people in my college and get away from my studies.
This experience so far has been unbelievable and I have to keep reminding myself that this is in fact real life.
Honors Program Director, Dr. Ryan Cragun, hosted what is likely the first of an ongoing series of Q&As in the McKay Hall Common room on March 1st at 5:00 pm. There were coffee and espresso for everyone. Several students attended, asking numerous questions about the Honors Program.