UNC Asheville Honors Students Present Sparks Seminar Series

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By Nikolai Wise ‘21

The UNC Asheville Honors Program and its Student Honors Advisory Committee is hosting its spring session of Sparks: Bright Ideas in Short Seminars. The seminars have been hosted by the Honors Program for the past few years, and are open to the university, the community and alumni.

The seminars vary in topic and are dependent upon the interests and research conducted by the presenter. This semester’s topics include “Transformed: Transformation by Homeless Women and Children,” “HIV in Appalachia,” and “The Arts and Crafts of Knot Theory: Math Without Numbers,” among others. Assistant Professor Megan Underhill of UNC Asheville’s Sociology Department joins the student presenters with “Parenting During Ferguson: Making Sense of White Parents’ Silence.”

The Sparks series provides students with the opportunity to gain experience in presenting research and public speaking.

“I’m using Sparks to practice public speaking, so I am taking my Intro to Sociology project and making a Sparks lecture out of it,” said Alayna Graves, a sophomore honors student at UNC Asheville, who will be making her second Sparks presentation on March 6, on “Homosexuality in the Rural South of the Bible Belt.”  

The Sparks Seminar Series is planned and run by students and is sponsored by the Honors Program.

“The students have completely put together everything Sparks has done,” Graves said. “It’s just an opportunity for honors students to present their research, practice public speaking, and just get together… We realized this is really good information and there’s no reason the rest of the campus can’t get this information.”

University Honors Program Director Patrick Bahls praises the experience of the Sparks Seminar Series. He says he values the unique experience that UNC Asheville’s size provides.

 “At a larger institution, undergraduate students wouldn’t have the chance to do this, especially at the university-wide level,” Bahls said.

The seminars are held in the Laurel Forum in Karpen Hall room 139. The next seminars will be March 21, March 28, April 4, and April 20.