MCCC Honors Symposium highlights student success

More than 300 guests attended in this year’s MCCC Student Honors Symposium on April 18 at the La-Z-Boy Center.

The event highlighted the talents of 75 MCCC students, some of whom are in MCCC’s Honors Program. Other students were selected or nominated by faculty members. Students could also volunteer to take part in the event. Participating students held 10–15-minute presentations, some included demonstrations and Q&A discussions.

Beverly Tomek, dean of humanities/social sciences division, welcomes guests at the 2024 Student Honors Symposium. (Photos by Reese Bowling)

In the atrium, the 38th annual issue of MCCC’s “IMAGES,” an art and literary magazine, was released. Therese O’Halloran, assistant professor of art, introduced students showcasing their art displayed throughout the room.

The first symposium was held in 2019 before the COVID-19 lockdown. This year’s event marks the third year and the largest to date.

“The program has changed quite a bit, since originally it was aimed almost for students in the college’s honors program,” said Edmund La Clair, associate professor of history. “They are required to attend the conferences and do the program as part of the requirements. Over the years, we have tried to turn this into more of a celebration of all of our students and their academic and artistic pursuits while they are at the college.”

La Clair said with each year, the event gets better and students’ energy is impressive.

Tristan Mann conducts his presentation on AI and artist copyright laws at the 2024 Student Honors Symposium.

“Next year, we are hoping to move the event to a weekend,” La Clair said. “We are going to officially rebrand it as the ‘Dr. James DeVries Memorial Symposium.’ Dr. DeVries was a professor at the college for 40 years and a dear friend of mine who passed away in 2018.”

La Clair said the college wants to honor DeVries’ legacy. DeVries was an MCCC history professor from 1970-2010 and later served as a trustee.

“He used to pay out of his pocket to help students with tuition and books,” La Clair said. “We thought this would be a wonderful way to honor his legacy to move it to a weekend. We will be able to make it a longer event and bring in more transfer universities. We want to make this an extraordinarily helpful event for our students.”

Comments on the symposium

“I and professor Edmund La Clair, who is the honors coordinator and also FYE coordinator, we put this together in conjunction to essentially celebrate student work on this campus. We really wanted it to be a celebratory event for student work, particularly at the end of the semester as a positive thing.” 

– Jenna Bazzell, associate professor of English

“As a faculty host, I was admiring the art, the level of quality and professionalism and the professionalism of our students. They have some great research topics and I am so excited to hear them.”

Sierra Seidelman, an MCCC student, proudly displays her writing published in “IMAGES” magazine, “The Day You Went Away.”

– Elizabeth Hartig, faculty reference librarian/public services

“I’m just happy to be here tonight and I’m happy to see everyone’s artwork. Everyone has done such an incredible job in the last couple of semesters. I’m looking forward to the future and what people can do for the ‘IMAGES’ magazine.” 

Sierra Seidelman, student and “IMAGES” contributor

“This is the first year that I actually got a chance to participate myself, although I’ve had students participate before. I feel very strongly about the student symposium because it gives folks a chance to give a presentation in front of an audience, receive feedback, hopefully get a few tips and just get a feel for what that experience is like. This is a good first experience.” 

– Ken Mohney, professor of anthropology

“I presented ‘Negative Outcomes of Social Media Usage.’ I really enjoyed it, I had a good time. I think this is a beneficial experience for me going forward from here. I was very nervous going into it, but I think overall it has benefited me in a lot of ways.” 

– Layla Pavlick, student presenter

“I’m so excited to be here tonight. Honestly, our fine arts program is one of the main reasons I applied for a job to work here. I love what we have with our newspaper, our magazine and our art. So, to be part of this sharing of our art and our brilliant students’ work is such an honor.”       

– Beverly Tomek, dean of humanities/social sciences division

“The art club has been a slow start. We have completely all new people. We have an exhibition beginning May 20 that should last until July 14 (at the IHM Motherhouse, 610 W. Elm Ave. in Monroe).”

– Benjamin Fry, student artist and art club president