This year, AU had a special connection with the national Alpha Chi conference held in Portland, Oregon from April 5-7.
Five AU students traveled across the country to present their academic research at the conference and to hear a speech by President Pistole, this year’s Distinguished Alpha Chi Alumnus.
Only those in the top 10 percent of their classes are invited to join the Alpha Chi Honor Society each year. About 300 Alpha Chi chapters exist in colleges across the U.S.
“It is a national honor society that has been around since 1922,” said Dr. Jason Parks, assistant professor of English and faculty advisor for the AU chapter of Alpha Chi.
“It is one of the oldest honor societies on AU’s campus as well,” he said.
Alpha Chi offers unique professional growth opportunities for its members. Students involved are given numerous opportunities to compete for one of the society’s prestigious scholarships, network and even publish their original research in an Alpha Chi undergraduate journal.
In addition, members of Alpha Chi are invited to attend and present at the annual national conference each year on a topic of interest. Among the attendees and presenters at this year’s conference, themed “Our Green Planet,” were Nikki Edrington, John Lee, Miranda Ridener, Kristen Shepard and Josh Vallance.
This year, the students represented many majors and academic interests ranging from biochemistry to Bible and religion.
Within an 11 to 14 minute time limit, students presented their research to a group of professionals and fellow undergraduates from colleges and universities across the U.S. Student presenters were evaluated on their clarity, ability to field questions and the quality of their visual presentations.
Junior Kristen Shepard presented her research project titled “A Possibility of a Genetic Predisposition for Homosexuality: A Christian Perspective.”
“It was basically a literature review of studies attempting to link homosexuality to a genetic cause and then answering the question: what should the church do about it?” Shepard said.
Other AU presentations included Nikki Edrington’s “Women’s Roles in a Veiled Society: How the Honor-Shame System Impacted the Early Church,” John Lee’s “Detection of Lactobacili in Mice Fecal Matter,” Miranda Ridener’s “William Lloyd Garrison: A Man Ahead of His Time” and Josh Vallence’s “Automation.”
“Alpha Chi has members from all different majors, so it was interesting to see presentations in other disciplines,” said Shepard.
“Along with presenting their research, the students had the opportunity to listen to distinguished speakers and network with other undergraduates in their academic field,” said Parks.
Additionally, junior history and dance major Miranda Ridener was awarded a regional scholarship at the conference.
“I was very shocked and honored,” Ridener said of the scholarship.
Students attending the conference listened to speeches by bestselling author Jeff Vandermeer and AU’s own President Pistole. Pistole was inducted into the Indiana Alpha Chi chapter in 1977 and was recognized at this year’s conference as a distinguished member of the honor society.
Many of the students attending had never previously visited Oregon, so they took time to explore the city of Portland between conference sessions. While there, they visited some popular locations in the city, including Powell’s Books, the world’s largest independent bookstore and the infamous Voodoo Doughnut shop.
Shepard enjoyed spending time in a part of the country she had never visited.
“My favorite part was getting to explore Portland because I’d never been there before,” said Shepard.
Next year’s Alpha Chi national conference will be hosted closer to home in Cleveland, Ohio, April 4-9.