Program preview: Honors student prepare to present

Program preview: Honors student prepare to present

Last week, sophomores of the Loras College Honors Program received topics for the project they will be working on for the next three years during their time at Loras. The projects this year are very diverse and will certainly benefit the Dubuque community during their progression. This is an exciting time in the Honors Program, as these students begin to brainstorm ideas about their projects and form lofty—yet manageable—goals they wish to reach in the next few years. With interdisciplinary groups formed from students of all different majors, each member will have a different perspective to bring to their respective group. The honors program values interdisciplinary learning in all projects, and this year will be no exception. From kinesiology to business, elementary education to neuroscience, there are plenty of majors represented in this year’s sophomore honors class!

There were six project topics announced this year: Indigenous Dubuque, News Literacy, Nutrition, Financial Literacy, Special Needs Population, and Family-Childhood experiences.

The first project, Indigenous Dubuque, will be mentored by history professor, Dr. John Eby. It focuses on the rich history of the early settlers of what would later become Dubuque, IA., as well as find a way to make the Dubuque community and its visitors more aware of the indigenous populations who settled the land first.

“Historical placards in the Mines of Spain and public documents acknowledge the presence of indigenous people in the Dubuque area at the onset of Euro-American immigration and settlement,” explained mentor Dr. Eby, “however, these site markers say little about the people who lived here.  This group will investigate the indigenous past of Dubuque and explore how the city can tells its story in ways that are inclusive of indigenous perspective and experience.”

The group members for this topic include Bobbi Jo Bellmann, Patricia Droessler, Miranda Ulses, Isaac Uppena, and Luke Guttormson.

The second project, News Literacy, will be mentored by co-director of the Loras library, Professor Kristen Smith. This project will have some ties to “Fake News” and PR, but its main focus is addressing issues around news literacy.

“Awareness is growing about the need for news literacy skills for all ages,” said Professor Smith. “Information overload, social media technologies, and the conflicting values of speed versus accuracy exacerbate the problem. This project is about addressing problems around news literacy. Issues may include understanding why news matters, how to become a more discerning news consumer, bias versus editorial slant, the difference between news and opinion, ‘fake news,’ propaganda, rumors, and advertising being presented as real news. News literacy is often framed around developing critical thinking skills in order to judge reliability and credibility of information encountered in print, television, and internet sources.”

Group members for this topic include Javon Connolly, Grace d’Antico, Noah Robins, and Nicholas Reiter.

The third project, Nutrition and Health, will be mentored by kinesiology professor, Dr. Elaina Beichler. This group’s focus is the education of college-aged students on how to incorporate good nutrition into their bodies, since the “college years” seem to have garnered a bad reputation for students eating unhealthily. (Freshman fifteen? Never heard of her!)

“This group is interested in educating college aged students on how to eat healthy, the benefits of eating healthy, and how to buy groceries, cook healthy for yourself, and meal prep, etcetera,” said group mentor Dr. Beichler. “I am always excited to work with honors groups because there is a diversity of background with each student—which really enriches my perspective of various topics—and allows us to approach a research topic with a wide breadth of understanding and perspective.”

The group members for this topic include John Boehle, McKenzie Eckert, Anna McInvile, Sarah Seele, Kyler Luepkes, and Stephen Ronefeldt.

The fourth project, Financial Literacy, will be mentored by finance professor, Brian Kahlback. The main goal of this project is to improve awareness and understanding of financial literacy for college students. Who wouldn’t want to better understand how to deal with student loans?

“We have thrown out ideas of building a program or presentation that we can present to local campuses to provide students with general information of finances of early adulthood,” said group member Madison Brewster. “In working with Professor Kallback, we will potentially make connections with companies in California and Iowa to effectively build this program.”

Members of this topic include Brewster, Matt Connolly, Zeke Smith, and Emma Snyder.

The fifth project, focusing on the Special Needs Population, will be mentored by the head of the Lynch Learning Center, Dr. Lynn Gallagher. Their project involves working specifically with the special needs population in Dubuque, and creating an event that promotes socialization among the school-age members of this population

“We are currently thinking about several different options and are planning on working with other honors groups that are also working with the special needs population and other organizations on and off campus,” said honors program student Brianna Renner about their project. “I choose this project because of my little cousin who has Downs Syndrome. He is always a happy bundle of energy and I want to make other people like him just as happy, because everyone deserves to smile.”

The group is composed of Henry Martens, Clare Mendez, Nicole Platt, Paolo Zavala, and Renner.

The sixth project, Family-Childhood Experiences, will be mentored by professor of sports management, Dr. Matt Garrett. This group’s plan is to interview community partners to better understand how childhood experiences have an effect on the Dubuque community. Depending on what the outcome of their research is, the group will begin a project that betters the experience of the youth in Dubuque.

“We chose this topic because we are all interested in how family experiences have an effect on childhood development,” explained Noelle Ghrer, a member of this group.

This group is composed of Ghrer, Brianna Arreguin, Rebecca Nonnenmann, Clare Brunn, and Kaylee Osterberger.

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Audrey Miller

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Audrey Miller is a writer for The Lorian.

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