FC honor students Nicholas Le and Russell Hillabrand received the HTCC Exemplary Student Awards at the Honors Transfer Council of California (HTCC) Research Conference on Saturday, April 1.
The HTCC annual student research conference gives students in community college honors programs the opportunity to give research-based presentations analyzing topics and issues within the subjects of the humanities, sciences, arts, social sciences and pre-professional programs.
Hillabrand was also awarded with the Juan Lara Award, an honor given to an individual “who has demonstrated outstanding growth and academic success brought about by involvement in a community college honors program.”
“I knew that Professor Balma had nominated me for the Exemplary Student Award, but I didn’t find out about the Juan Lara award until I arrived there,” Hillabrand explained, “I had to come up with a thank you speech on the spot. I even wrote it down on a piece of receipt paper.”
“I’m very grateful and surprised to receive such an award. I owe it to my fiancée, Evelyn Martinez, and Professor Balma,” he continued.
Le also expressed admiration and inspiration as a recipient and a fellow presenter among countless other college students.
“I am truly humbled to have been a recipient of the HTCC Exemplary Student Award among so many bright minds around me,” Le said, “ For me it’s both a reminder and a reason to continue to put my best foot forward in my approach to academics.”
Along with the potential to win several monetary and honors awards, students are also eligible to submit their research to be published through the University of California, Irvine in the HTCC anthology, “Building Bridges.”
Among the awardees, several other FC students presented their research:
Janki Sukhadia, Aaron Untiveros, Gregory Boules, Gloria Kim, Aric Martinez, Aliya Aziz, Chris DeLeon, Naveen Khan and Roya Akram.
Gregory Boules said it was an “overall great experience” having the opportunity to meet and discuss with other students and their research.
Gloria Kim drew inspiration from “being around such motivated and driven people.”
Janki Sukhadia showed her appreciation for the staff that accompanied the honors students at the conference.
President Greg Schulz, sociology professor Kelly Nelson-Wright and political science professor Jodi Balma all attended the conference to show their support for their students.
As a mentor, Kelly Nelson-Wright, who teaches Honors Introduction to Sociology, expressed her gratitude by saying it was “remarkably rewarding” seeing several of her students presenting at UCI.
For Nelson-Wright, the conference is “one of the most inspiring days of the year” for herself as an educator.
“It makes me incredibly proud to mentor and guide students as they work diligently on their sociological research, and then witness the culmination of their efforts in a professional setting,” Nelson-Wright explained.
“I was really glad to see Professor Nelson-Wright show up to support us. She was my mentor for the presentation I had gotten accepted for last year,” Sukhadia said.
“Jodi Balma, of course, is such an inspiration and knowing she was there to support us was very empowering. Most people don’t know how much Jodi really does,” she continued.
Along with being the Honors Program coordinator at Fullerton College, Balma also serves as the HTCC Conference President.
“The HTCC Research Conference is one of the best experiences our honors students can have,” Balma explained, “It allows them to present their academic research and share ideas with other students who are interested in the same field.
Balma also hopes the experience inspires them “to pursue different interests and subjects that might not have occurred to them.”
“It’s a great opportunity for our students to see themselves as scholars in academia,” she concluded.