Honors students head to Florida


Dr. Rebecca Bott-Knutson is the dean of the Fishbach Honors College on campus.

Colette Gannon, Reporter

Students and faculty members from the South Dakota State University Fishback Honors College will be attending and presenting at the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) Conference this week. 

The five-day conference, starting Oct. 27, will feature workshops, speakers and networking opportunities for honors students and faculty around the world.

It will take place at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resort in Orlando, ending Oct. 31. 

Rebecca Bott-Knutson, dean of the Fishback Honors College, hopes that students will gain perspective into the reasons why honors exist and an appreciation for the SDSU Honors College as well as return with new ideas to implement in the Fishback Honors College. 

“The neat thing about this conference is that everybody from students through administrators is trusted to have great knowledge that can advance honors as a discipline,” Knutson said. 

The conference will allow the opportunity for honors students to bond with each other through activities such as mixers and a “student fishbowl” where students discuss what it’s like to be an honors student. 

“There’s also the fun extras,” Knutson said. “We try to provide a really tight-knit community in Honors [hall] here, but this is an opportunity to expand your honors community and network to a national scene.” 

Leisure activities will include an International Food and Wine Festival at Disney World’s Epcot theme park and a costume party. SDSU honors students and faculty will also have the chance to go out to eat dinner together at a Disney World theme park.

Guest speakers include former NASA astronaut Kathryn Thornton and National Geographic live primatologist and wildlife correspondent Dr. Mireya Mayor, according to the conference schedule. 

Senior psychology major Alyssa Gentile will be one of six student presenters from the SDSU Honors College. Doing two presentations, she is excited to interact with other honors students at the conference and stay at a Disney resort. 

“I don’t know any other people that are involved in an honors college outside of SDSU, so it will be fun to experience other students and faculty,” Gentile said. 

One of Gentile’s presentations will include original research done in her sophomore year on the effect of disability status on customer service attitudes and satisfaction.

“Being able to attend a conference and present my own research and hear other people’s research I think will be huge for me and my experiences,” Gentile said. 

Gentile will also be doing a partner presentation with senior business economics major Kailee Schultz.

The presentation will be about student-to-student interaction on college campuses. It will focus on research that shows the benefits of interacting with other students on campus, specifically in Honors.

“I feel like we haven’t got to do a lot of in-person activities recently, so I’m excited to be with a group of interdisciplinary honors students and get to travel with them,” Schultz said. 

With a new theme each year, this year’s conference theme is “Reimagining Honors: Past, Present, Future.” It will focus on taking lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to enrich the honors experience. 

Sessions and workshops will address topics such as honors and technology, creating honors study abroad experiences, honors students and perfectionism, and pandemic-driven innovations in honors. 

“It’s a discipline and a group of people that don’t love to sit in the status quo,” Knutson said. “They are always trying to figure out how to stay fresh.”

To learn more information about the 2021 NCHC Conference, visit www.nchchonors.org