The Estrella Mountain Community College Honors Program hosts this year’s Student Conference, which features the theme, Knowledge is Power. The purpose of the Student Conference is to provide students with the experience of presenting their own work in a formal conference setting. To participate, students were required to work with a mentor and submitted their proposals for presentation to their direct mentor for review. The opportunity was open to students from the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges.
By undergoing a rigorous and professional process, students benefit in several ways. It gives them an opportunity to engage in critical and creative thought, as they develop their work. The collaborative nature of their presentation helps enhance their skills in working with others, both personally and professionally. The presentation of their work allows them to demonstrate communication mastery. Presentations are a maximum of 15 minutes, followed by up to five minutes of questions from the judges.
Sandra Castro Solis is the event’s keynote speaker. She started her college career at EMCC and spent two years there earning an Associate in Arts degree before transferring to ASU. Solis was born in Los Angeles, Calif., to immigrant parents and said that it was her time at EMCC that really changed her life. “It made me become more aware about things going on in the world,” she said, “and to becoming a more involved humanitarian.”
Solis went on to earn a BA in History at ASU and a Master’s in Human Rights Studies – International Affairs from Columbia University. She has made human rights a priority and current works as the community engagement coordinator at the ACLU of Arizona. She advocates for human rights with different communities across the state. In 2015, she was awarded the Corazon del Pueblo Human Rights Award. She says many members of the EMCC faculty are responsible for her enhanced awareness of social issues. Solis also has a deep love for gardening and the therapeutic properties it can offer to those suffering from issues like anxiety and depression. Prior to her current position, she worked as a therapeutic gardener.
This year’s Student Conference is also held in honor of the esteemed Dr. Bryan K. Tippett, who passed away in 2015. He served as the vice president of Academic Affairs from 2000-2015.