Meredith College honors student Catherine Koontz, ’18, took first prize at the 18th annual Undergraduate Honors Symposium, which was held on March 2, 2018 at University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Koontz is pursuing a double major in economics and political science. She presented her paper titled “Pick Your Politics: Exploring Student Perspectives on Personal Political Influences During Their Undergraduate Studies.” After the presentation, she fielded questions on her topic, which is also the subject of her Honors thesis. Koontz will present her thesis in April at Celebrating Student Achievement Day on Meredith’s campus.
She chose her topic because she wanted to know more about how well college students understand the United States’ political system.
“The future of American politics lies in how well my generation handles our civic responsibilities, and it goes so much deeper than simply voting in every election,” said Koontz. “We need to have productive conversations, find common ground with those with whom we disagree, and stay informed on policies that affect us locally and nationally.”
Koontz said her favorite part of participating in the symposium was having the opportunity to gain more public speaking skills and network with others. She particularly appreciated the support she received from Honors Program Director Brent Pitts, noting that she was also supported by her parents and other mentors at Meredith.
“Dr. Pitts encouraged me from the very beginning. I approached him when I was considering applying for the Symposium, and he was so excited for me to challenge myself and try something new.”
The Honors Symposium offers outstanding undergraduates at UNCG and other area Honors Programs and Colleges the opportunity to participate in an academic conference with concurrent sessions.
Koontz observed that the experience stretched her personally and professionally.
“This experience taught me that gaining academic exposure as a scholar is so vital for personal growth. I took a leap of faith in stepping out of my comfort zone, and it was well worth it.”