While presenting at an academic conference is old hat for professors, it’s nerve-wracking the first time around. But as two Spanish undergraduate students learned, it’s also a deeply rewarding experience. “It was a humbl[ing] experience to learn and interact with different professors across the country,” reported junior Keily Ramirez. ”It opens your mind once hearing a lot of their stories [and] they made presenting a paper/project not so scary after all.”
Ramirez, along with fellow student Dominique Perez, travelled to the 26th National Conference of the National Association of Hispanic and Latino Studies in Dallas, TX this February, accompanied by professors Enrique Porrua and Diana Lee. Perez presented a paper entitled “Effects of Acculturation and its Impact on Mexican American Population,” and Ramirez presented “Interpreting Power in ‘Un dia de estos’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.”
Porrua said that working with the students was “one of the most pleasant experiences of my professional career.” At the conference, “I saw them interacting with other presenters. I saw them engaged in real scholarship… They can be proud of themselves now that they have contributed their very own and original piece of knowledge.”
Lee, who Porrua said was instrumental in supervising and reviewing the students’ papers, was also full of praise for their work and scholarly engagement, “It was very gratifying to have Keily and Dominique attend the NAHLS conference; both women presented extremely well-argued papers. The best part was seeing how the two of them were able to interact with the other presenters at the conference. They had great questions and were very intellectually engaged at all the panels.”
“I’m so glad I got the chance to see them grow in their confidence as intellectuals” she added; “having presented already at a national conference demonstrates that both ladies are ahead of their peers in many ways. I’m grateful that UNCP has a system in place to help undergraduates achieve this type of potential and I hope to continue to encourage my students to take advantage of the support UNCP offers.”
Porrua, too, looked forward to the academic growth of both these students and others yet to come: “hopefully, this experience opened a door for them to whole new understanding of academia and how original ideas are shared…The seed has been planted. Hopefully, they will keep contributing and cultivating themselves as scholars. Now, we don’t have just two talents on campus. Our classes are full of them. Let’s have them all believe on themselves. Let’s keep gardening. Spring is coming early this year."
Ramirez made it clear that Lee and Porrua’s hopes were well founded. “I’ve learned about myself with the help of the conference experience,” she reflected. “A student can push themselves to a limit to bring their creativity and present it to people that they have in common.”