An estimated 600 students gathered at UHCL to attend the annual Student Conference for Research & Creative Arts (SCRCA) to present their original academic work.
The conference is designed as an affordable way for students to get professional feedback about their presentations as well as to provide a learning process on how to prepare their work for presentation.
Students who present at the conference must be sponsored by a faculty member who will review and approve the presentation prior to application. During the conference, community members from various fields and corporations critique participants’ work and offer feedback.
“The goal of the conference is to focus on the students and their successes,” said Pilar Goyarzu, co-director of SCRCA. “This is a learning process for students to make them comfortable in a familiar environment and to provide feedback to help them succeed in their future careers.”
This year the conference marked SCRCA’s 20th anniversary. Throughout the past 20 years, the conference has seen many changes and has increased in size.
SCRCA started in 1994. Former director and associate professor of psychology Kyna Shelley and current director Michael Hunt, instructor of psychology, originally led the conference with 31 students from UHCL. Not all of those first conference students wanted to participate, but their professors pushed them to join, which started the conference.
Over the years, the conference began to invite students from other colleges to present their work. Most students who participate in SCRCA are local or in state, but students from 13 different states have attended the conference, and even students from other countries such as Argentina, Canada and Mexico. SCRCA also invites students from community colleges to participate.
“It’s a good way to introduce the students from the junior colleges to our campus,” Hunt said. “Having the students come to UHCL to participate in the conference is a good way to help the campus grow, especially with the introduction of the freshmen and sophomores this fall.”
This year an estimated 600 students attended the conference; a large increase from the 31 students who started it in 1994.
The conference itself has seen a lot of changes during the past 20 years. With changes and advances in technology, more students began to present digitalized artistic works, which have become an integral part of the conference.
Animation is one of the more recent additions to the conference, with the 3rd Annual Animation & Film Festival this year. Another change that is also in its third year is the Honors Program Students from Laredo Community College.
As the name implies, events held at the conference range from artistic to academic and scholarly research. Some of this year’s events included: the Ramsey Campus presentations, which allowed inmates who have been taking UHCL courses from the Ramsey
Unit to present their works via videotape; an annual mock trial, where students studying legal fields stage a trial and determine a judgment; poster presentations; the Women’s Studies Seminar; and the Annual Animation & Film Festival.
Goyarzu and Hunt believe SCRCA would not be here today if it was not for the help of the faculty, evaluators and sponsors. Both said there are many people who put this event together every year and make sure that there will be students participating; faculty sponsorship and evaluations are keys of the UHCL conference.
“I think it is important to acknowledge the work and participation of faculty, sponsors and evaluators; without them, the student conference would not happen,” Goyarzu said.
There are also students who believe that the conference is beneficial to their peers who join SCRCA.
“The students are making a difference and showing their peers what they have done,” said James Elmore, a conference committee member and undergraduate psychology major. “The conference provides an opportunity for students to look into other research and to also enhance their skills.”
Students who are interested in participating in SCRCA should start gathering their works to prepare a presentation in advance. As mentioned, students need a faculty member to sponsor them before they can apply to the conference. Students can visit the SCRCA website at www.uhcl.edu/ResearchArtsConference/ for more information about the conference and to view proceedings from this year and past conferences.
Photos and slideshow by Francisco Vazquez: The Signal.