Meeting of the Minds

by Edward Boice

The Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference offered a chance for students to show off their scholarship and creative works and hone their public speaking.

The Higher Education Council of Berks County (HECBC) held the Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference on April 16. The HECBC organizes the conference annually around the 5 colleges in Berks County. Students from Albright, Penn State Berks, Alvernia, Kutztown, and RACC were on Alvernia University’s campus to present their scholarship and artistic works.

Sharon Blair, the Executive Assistant to the Provost at Alvernia, organized the conference this year. She sees this event as an important tool for student to gain experience organizing and presenting their ideas. The conference allows students to develop a comfort level with the presentation of their ideas. Students can also open a dialogue with other students about their research and creative work.

The conference was divided into sessions, each containing around three to four students presenting their projects. One afternoon social science session exemplified the diversity of work that were collected in the various sessions. The session contained four student presenters. Thomas C. Armstrong, an Albright student, who explained the differences between Spanish dialects. Jacob Himmelberger, representing Penn State Berks, did a presentation on his arguments for reforming the United States’ tax system. RACC student Zachery Stackhouse argued that Governor Mifflin School District needs to change their school property taxes. Lastly, students from the “Service Learning” class at Alvernia, did a presentation on the class’s community-service communications work, which included Sprint for Home, Reading Pretzel Festival, and Maker Faire.

Over 30 RACC students presented at the conference. Stackhouse, one of RACC’s presenters, is a Social Science transfer student, graduating in May. He saw the conference as an opportunity to gain public speaking skills and get other students’ insights into scholarly topics. Given Stackhouse’s interest in politics, the presentation gave him the chance to hone his public speaking skills.

Each student was sponsored by a faculty member from his or her school. Most were present to support and guide their students. Stackhouse was sponsored by RACC professor David Leight, who expressed his wish that more students would volunteer to come to the conference.

“RACC does have good ideas,” Leight said.

The Undergraduate Research and Creativity Conference provided an excellent opportunity for students to share what they had learned during the semester. It was also a great resource for students to network, particularly for RACC students interested in transferring to one of the other HECBC institutions.