Honors students attend NCHC in New Orleans

A group of Scholars and Honors students represented Youngstown State University at the 2013 National Collegiate Honors Council conference in New Orleans from Nov. 6-10.

Consisting of 13 sophomore students, the group — advised by YSU geography professor Ron Shaklee — gave five presentations at the national convention.

“They were all based on things they’ve done with and through the honors organizations,” Shaklee said. “They did exceptional jobs. It’s pretty amazing we had that high of a success rate.”

The presentations were approximately 20 minutes each. Ashley Orr, one of the students that attended, was part of a group that presented YSU’s Penguin Pen Pal program.

Orr said the program, which links Warren City School District elementary students to the YSU Honors students, was a hit.

“It was really eye opening to realize this project is significant and making a difference in our community,” she said. “Three other universities asked for contact info to start similar projects. So it’s exciting there’s something we’re doing here at YSU and it’s working so well that other schools are going to do it, too.”

In addition to presenting their work, Shaklee said a major benefit of the conference is to learn from other universities.

“They get to compare what they’re doing to other colleges and campuses to show them where they are in overall status and honor,” he said.

Orr said she found a public relations presentation particularly interesting.

Alana Lesknansky (left) and Kayla Zitello (right) represent Youngstown State at the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Ashley Orr.

“We have this great Honors and Scholars program, and although it’s great as a single entity, we can make it better by sharing our greatness across campus,” she said.

Orr hopes to implement some of the learned tactics into the YSU Scholars and Honors program.

“Just making sure all the professors know what the program has to offer is really important,” she said. “If people can hear about all the great things we’re doing and how we’re improving by using PR to shed a more positive light, we can have a growth in the program.”

In an added effort to promote the program, some of the 13 students will participate in a fireside chat in January detailing what they did and what was learned.

“We hope that more students will want to attend next year,” Orr said. “I feel it was an amazing experience and I think everyone who attended would second my opinion.”