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College Honors Program Students Present at Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference

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Photo (left to right): Bloomfield College of Montclair State University NRHC Conference attendees Madison Jones, Leslie Yuqui, Meya Salas and Paula Perez, and Associate Professor of Psychology and Honors Program Coordinator, Zachary Aidala, PhD.

Bloomfield College of Montclair State University Associate Professor of Psychology and Honors Program Coordinator, Zachary Aidala, PhD, recently accompanied four Honors Program students to the Northeast Regional Honors Council (NRHC) annual conference, held April 4-7, 2024, in Albany, New York, where three students were accepted to present their Honors Program research.

The NRHC, the organization dedicated to the encouragement and support of undergraduate honors learning, opened a call for proposals in September 2023 for its conference theme, Ahead of Our Time: Intersections of Thought and Technology Towards the Future. Students submitted abstracts of their projects in November 2023, which were then reviewed by one to three honors faculty/administration reviewers with relevant expertise. Students were notified of their acceptances in December 2023, and began their work to prepare for their presentations.

The Bloomfield College Honors Program students worked directly and collaboratively with Aidala on their research projects and presentations. Each was an active conference participant:

  • Madison Jones ’24 – Academic panel presentation, titled “An Overview of Global Climate Change and the Effects of Global Politics on Solving the Climate Crisis”
  • Leslie Yuqui ’24 – Poster presentation, titled “Gestures Between Collaborators Can Signal Cognitive Shifts in Mathematical Reasoning”
  • Meya Salas ’25 – Poster presentation, titled An Analysis of Davinci’s mechanics of man and its influence on the Modern Understanding of Anatomy
  • Paula Perez ’27 – attended the conference as a first-year student
    The 2024 NRHC Conference drew 406 attendees representing 64 schools. Conference presentations were delivered by 299 participants.

Aidala, who is also the NRHC President-elect, and served as the 2024 NRHC Conference Co-chair, says, “Being accepted to present at the annual conference is a highly selective process. I am very proud of our students for their high achievement throughout the semester in the Honors Program, and for their hard work and the confidence they displayed in making their public presentations.”

Bloomfield College Honors Program students benefit from direct faculty collaboration on topics that interest them, access to travel funds for national academic conferences, exclusive scholarship opportunities, co-curricular leadership experiences, a dedicated study lounge in the library, and more.

“This was my second opportunity to present at the NRHC conference, and it has been very rewarding for me on a personal and professional level. The faculty care, and provided so much support. I felt uplifted by the challenge, and even more so when I received such positive feedback from the attendees at the panel presentation,” says Jones, a first-generation college student, biology major and McNair Scholar who will graduate this May and plans to take a brief hiatus before attending graduate school.

“Through this research project, I not only learned about diving deep into statistical analysis but I also enhanced skills like how to communicate clearly and concisely to convey information in a way that is accessible to general audiences,” says Jones. “The Bloomfield faculty instilled in me that I am needed in the field of biology, which is very humbling to hear. I feel so supported in furthering my studies and am excited about the future. I especially love the study of climate change, and intend to continue my studies in environmentalism or ecology. This research experience working closely with my faculty has been life changing for me.”

The 2024 NRHC Conference drew 406 attendees representing 64 schools. Conference presentations were delivered by 299 participants.

The NRHC, a regional affiliate of the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC), provides its members with opportunities for the exchange of information, ideas, and assistance through its annual conference, its newsletter, and its scholarships. Currently, almost 200 colleges and universities are NRHC members, encompassing Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Quebec, Ontario, and the Maritime Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.