Students experience the ‘Magic of Honors’ at conference

Freshmen students Hope Still, Cory Meigs and Isaiah Johnson answer questions about their poster presentation. Photo by Elizabeth Banfield

By: Chelsea Sydnor

On March 31-April 3, 14 members of the Gardner-Webb Honors Student Association (HSA) discovered the “magic of honors” at the 44th annual Southern Regional Honors Conference (SRHC) in Orlando, Florida.

During the Conference Lunch on Friday, students were directed to sit at tables labeled with the Harry Potter houses to go along with the theme "The Magic of Honors." The keynote speaker at this conference also spoke about magic and Harry Potter. Photo by Elizabeth Banfield

During the Conference Lunch on Friday, students were directed to sit at tables labeled with the Harry Potter houses to go along with the theme “The Magic of Honors.” The keynote speaker at this conference also spoke about magic and Harry Potter.
Photo by Elizabeth Banfield

The theme for the 2016 SRHC incorporated themes from the Harry Potter series. Students were each given a theoretical assignment into one of the various Hogwarts houses, for which they competed for “house points,” similar to characters in the books. The weekend also included a trip to the Harry Potter World theme park within Universal Studios.

While SRHC has been taking place since 1973, representatives of Gardner-Webb have attended since 1996.

Dr. Tom Jones, dean of the Honors Program, believes that Honors conferences are important for students so they can share what is happening at their own universities, while also learning about and gathering ideas from other attending schools.

11 students ranging from freshmen to seniors presented various projects including concepts about the Honors program at Gardner-Webb, elaborations on projects for their classes and their senior theses.

Senior Elizabeth Banfield presented her senior thesis project, Mom: Perspectives on motherhood and the choices women face. She appreciated the chance to share the completed product that she had worked on with others that were genuinely interested in her work.

“The beauty of SRHC is that we get to meet fellow students and find out that we are not the only ones with big aspirations and determination,” said Banfield. “Many of the people at these conferences really will go out and change the world, and a conference could be where their idea begins.”

Junior AJ Horner discussed fundraisers for the HSA in his project for the conference. Horner has

Students Jacob Kirby, Emily DeVries, and Josiah Parke wait in line to get a Butter Beer in the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios. Photo by Elizabeth Banfield

Students Jacob Kirby, Emily DeVries, and Josiah Parke wait in line to get a Butter Beer in the Harry Potter section of Universal Studios.
Photo by Elizabeth Banfield

attended SRHC once before. He appreciates the chance that conferences give students to “explore new places and network with other institutions.”

Horner also believes that this year’s conference was especially productive due to the Harry Potter elements.

“This conference was different because the students were more engaged,” said Horner. “Because of the theme, there seemed to have been more of a community amongst both faculty and students.”

First-time attendee, sophomore Alice Byrd, who presented research on the benefits and drawbacks of Honors housing, agreed.

“We heard from universities across the region and came back to campus refreshed with new ideas for how to improve the Honors program at Gardner-Webb,” said Byrd. “Attending SRHC was an awesome opportunity.”

To see all photos from the conference, click here.

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