The Honor Roll SPRING 2016
> Take Note:
The Intersections Undergraduate Research Conference turned ten this year. When it was started in 2007, the URC had a handful of panels and was sparsely attended, but this past April there were 19 posters and 68 presenters. A student-run conference, over 100 students participated by presenting, chairing panels, acting as respondents, or volunteering in other capacities. This year’s URC featured student research guided by faculty from all five of RMU’s schools, including “Dean’s Panels” of excellent work identified by each of the schools. Twenty-one of the presentations and posters were senior honors thesis research or creative work. As a presenter, I found this experience to be a chance to share my year of research and hard work with my fellow classmates, professors, friends, and family. The URC wouldn’t be possible without the emphasis RMU places on discovering new perspectives and a love for learning. Written by: Diane Gorog
> Tiny Homes, Big Goals Tiny Houses are a national phenomenon. Students are building them for substitutes to dormitory living, people are living in them to simplify their lives, and HGTV has an extremely popular “tiny houses” show. The honors course “Current Topics in Sustainability” taught by Dr. Marcel Minutolo has spent the spring semester working on a proposal to fund the development of a tiny home. The goal of developing a tiny home would be to provide a homeless veteran with permanent eco-friendly housing that uplifts the human spirit and promotes self-sufficiency. In May, the Home Depot Foundation approved a grant proposal that will aid the class in building a model tiny home. Further funding is needed to complete the project, but this is an exciting step toward the goal to help end veteran homelessness in Pittsburgh. Written by: Alexander Merryman
>> CONGRATS TO ALL THE STUDENT PRESENTERS AT THE URC THIS YEAR -- IT WAS OUR LARGEST CONFERENCE EVER!
> Honors Research Symposium
Kylee Schaffer was accepted into an REU at East Carolina University. Maria French was accepted into an REU on Particle-based Functional Materials at Pitt. Megan DeArmit will be participating in The Washington Center Democratic National Convention this summer. Nicole Stone will be participating in a NCHC “Partners in the Park” this summer in Hawaii.
> Art Show The Northeast Regional Honors Council conference was a fantastic experience. The conference was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and over 500 students and honors directors were in attendance! I presented during the student art show. I was amazed at the amount of positive feedback I received about my piece and I loved talking with the students who came up to ask questions and learn more. Next year, the conference is being held in Pittsburgh and I hope to get more students from RMU to attend this wonderful event. Written by: Hannah Arnold
>> SAC OFFICERS FOR 16-17:
Dr. Monica VanDieren researches mathematical concepts not familiar to the general public, such as the multiple levels of infinity. However, in her Roundtable presentation she was able to guide her audience through the complex applications of projective geometry through helpful visuals, in-depth explanations, and interactive tasks. What I enjoyed most about the Roundtable was the discussion of the Fano Plane! Just one look at it could make your head spin, but through her explanations and engaging exercises, the audience was able to grasp the concept of a projective plane. After all of these ideas were thoroughly discussed, Dr. VanDieren shared the applications of projective geometry, such as flying drones, calibrating cameras, and granting computers the ability to synthesize images. Written by: Clint Speer
> Honors Alumni Cocktail Hour Following the URC, the Honors Program hosted a cocktail reception for its graduating seniors and alumni. We started the reception by reminiscing and recounting our journey with RMU and the Honors Program. Looking back, we all agreed that the freshman kayaking trip during orientation felt so long ago. We got another blast from the past: The letters we had written to ourselves four years ago during our first few days at RMU. I’ll be the first to admit that I cried reading mine, although I wasn’t the only one. Between the catharsis of presenting and being so close to graduating, emotions were running high. As we ate and chatted, it definitely felt like we had come full circle. I think we were all ecstatic that we could say, “We did it!” Written by: Tara Dillan
JOCELYN BORDO, ALLISON DUSHACK, MARA RUZICKA-BUTZ, EMILY NOBERS, AND HANNAH ARNOLD
> A Mind-Bending Roundtable
> Lunch with a Professor Many RMU students know that one of the many perks of attending a small, private college is that you will get to know just about everyone on campus, including your professors. On two afternoons this semester, honors students took a break from their studies to eat lunch with their beloved professors: physics professor Dr. Gavin Buxton and communication department head Dr. Heather Pinson. At Dr. Buxton’s lunch, we spent an hour reflecting upon entertaining experiences in his class and our best memories at RMU. Dr. Pinson brought an assortment of gadgets that she keeps in her office, including some action figures and various types of candy. She shared her insights into the college atmosphere, secrets to her teaching success, and a few humorous anecdotes about her time as a professor. During our lunches, we got to know our favorite professors a little better and they got to know each of us a little better, too. It was an awesome experience and we’re glad we got to spend time with two of RMU’s most interesting (and funny) professors! Written by: Paul Schink and Maggie Bordo
> Health Insurance: We Don’t Know Enough!
Written by: David Bendig
> Are We Too Cool for School? All too often, students fall into a habit of simply taking and passing classes, completing their checksheet, and working towards graduation. This seminar, “Too Cool for School,” reached out to students and challenged them to step outside of their comfort zone and take advantage of the many opportunities presented to them through Robert Morris University and other resources. This event consisted of a panel of accomplished students who have truly taken their education here at RMU a step further, pursuing internships, study abroad opportunities, networking and exploring other proactive paths. Each student on the panel brought a new, unique perspective to the table, all agreeing on one main point: your education is completely what you make of it. Essentially, you get out of it what you put into it. A small resource fair was hosted at the conclusion of the panel discussion. After listening to the panelists’ tips on networking, this miniature resource fair provided an immediate chance to practice and utilize these newly learned skills. Written by: Olivia McCafferty
>> LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE FUTURE AT HONORS.RMU.EDU/FELLOWSHIPS
In college, students learn how to balance multiple responsibilities including school, work, and finances. As a result, they gain a level of understanding that helps them grow as adults. But according to honors senior actuarial science major Brian Murone, there is one thing college students do not understand well: health insurance. For his honors senior thesis Brian chose to focus on improving health insurance literacy on college campuses. In order to accomplish this task, Brian chose to host a health insurance seminar. During the seminar, Brian gave his audience a pretest on health care facts and terminology. He also explained different types of health insurance plans, and what the advantages and disadvantages were of each. As a way to gauge the audience’s knowledge of health insurance, a post-test was administered. Throughout the entire seminar, Brian emphasized that knowing the basics of health insurance and how to select the right health insurance for you is too important a choice to remain uninformed.
> Insight into the Game of Politics This semester Dr. Philip Harold hosted a roundtable on RMU’s Polling Institute. There was a lot of valuable information presented at the roundtable that provided great insight into current political issues. The most interesting topic covered during the roundtable was the current state of the 2016 Presidential race. According to the findings of the Polling Institute, based on a national survey of 1,000 random people, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the least likeable candidates; however, a majority of people could see themselves supporting them. This is especially true for Trump. People do not like Trump as a person, but they like what he represents. They gravitate towards his open, honest approach to the race. The Polling Institute has offered great data that has been published in multiple news outlets, including the New York Times and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In all, my understanding of current political races and issues was enhanced due to the roundtable and polling institute. I encourage everyone to look at the issues and facts themselves in order to become more informed voters. Written by: Aaron Sims
The new and improved Honors Student Center was a popular topic of conversation among honors student during the spring semester. Some highlights of the new center are an updated carpet, paint job, and furniture. The HSC is a great place for study and relaxation, as well as events. Students have noted that the HSC is now a more pleasant study environment. My favorite part of the remodel is Honors Program Assistant Lindsey Sobolosky’s new office located right outside the HSC Written by: Monica DeLuca
> An Honors Student Abroad
Written by: George Dietrich
> Outings The Honors Student Advisory Council sponsored two great outings this semester. The Pittsburgh Zoo students got to go “backstage” to see tigers, lions, the reptile house, and the sea turtle rehabilitation center. We were allowed to hold yellow and red bellied turtles, pet Galapagos tortoises, and go into the enclosure with an alligator. By the time we got back on the bus, students had seen the entire zoo and watched a polar bear dance. To end the semester, 25 students played a late night game of laser tag at Xtreme Laser Storm. It was a great way to meet new people, catch up with old friends, and create an immediate bond over trying to beat the opposing team. This end-of-the-semester event allowed students to take their mind off of the upcoming, stressful finals week. Written by: Kelly Jones and Emily Nobers
Thank you to our newsletter contributors: Diane Gorog Alexander Merryman Tara Dillan Clint Speer Hannah Arnold Paul Schink Maggie Bordo David Bendig Aaron Sims Olivia McCafferty George Dietrich Kelly Jones Emily Nobers Monica DeLuca
When I arrived in Berlin, exited the plane and made my first few steps on the land that I would call home for the next six months, I understood that my way of life in the States would be greatly altered. Coming from a small town, I was scared of what “living in the big city” would entail, considering I do not really know German. Surprisingly enough, I have grown accustomed to the Berlin way of life. It’s a pretty liberal city with hipsters, street art, and a wide range of cultural backgrounds. I have come to love my almost daily lunch of two fried bratwursts cut into slices with curry powder smothered in curry ketchup with fries. Classes here are not much different than those at RMU. They are all taught in English, in standard classrooms with English-speaking classmates. Instead of taking five classes all at once, I only take two, for a total of six classes spread out in three six-week blocks. The positive side is that I only have one class per day; the downside is it is a three-hour session. It works out for travel purposes though, and I got to travel a lot over the past six months. The question is, am I coming home? The answer would be no… if I didn’t have family and life in the States waiting for me. After spending almost six months here I like to think of Berlin and Germany as my home, one that I will miss dearly upon going back to the States.
>> CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR 22 SPRING 2016 GRADUATES!
> Honors Student Center