Skyline hosts symposium to display social science and humanities projects

The virtual event featured students, experts, and creative ideas



The symposium is a showcase of research projects related to topics in Social Science and Humanities.

Skyline College’s first annual uSOAR, Undergraduate Symposium of Academic Research, brought together student researchers, student leaders, and professors to share the fruits of their conducted research.

The symposium, a virtual event, is a showcase of research projects related to topics in social sciences and humanities. Based on experience, researchers in the event academically challenged themselves to explore their “why” in the topic of interest, connect their findings across multiple disciplines, and build solutions to certain issues community-wise through their research.

Danni Redding Lapuz, who is the Skyline College Dean for Social Science and Creative Arts, further expanded on the point of research being transformative and impactful in a student’s educational experience.

“The process of conducting and writing about your own research is an act of empowerment,” Lapuz said. “Student researchers shift from consuming academic content that is selected for them to becoming academic content creators. This is a powerful reframing of our students’ relationships to learning, and it elevates diverse voices and perspectives in scholarship. Our vision with uSOAR is the creation of a symposium to raise our undergraduate research scholar voices and demystify the research process. We are so excited to bring the uSOAR vision to fruition at Skyline College.”

The first student researcher to present her project was Ellaine Frances Arroyo, who is a biology major at Skyline College, a member of the Honors Transfer Program, and an outreach ambassador at Skyline College. Her research delved into finding methods to better teach organic chemistry to students enrolled in STEM courses, and, in particular, using them to overcome racial, financial, gender, and mental health-related insecurities.

“I get to choose my own research question and that’s basically my ‘why’ and my motivation for finishing my project, because I know that in the end, I can use these findings to benefit someone,” Arroyo said, referring to her passion for learning new things.

Next to present was Nicole Hong, a psychology and recent communications major at the College of San Mateo and vice president of the Psychology Honors Society, whose research was on the topic of the struggles of lupus patients dealing with the vicious cycle of stress during the pandemic. Her experiences of being a lupus patient herself allowed her to provide background by describing firsthand the treatment lupus patients recieve and the reality of “living in uncertainty” they face.

“Basically, I like to shine light on issues that are not talked about enough and should be talked about more,” Hong said. “When I say I’m sick, people don’t often believe me because I don’t look sick, or brush it off as if it’s nothing, when in reality, lupus is a severe chronic illness that often dictates what I can do every day.”

Last to present was Kiana Leong, who is double-majoring in English and political science at Skyline College and dedicates their spare time to the Honors Transfer Program. Their research focused on the differences between both the structures of East Asian governments and Western democracies. They brought up points about why meritocracy should be given a chance to be practiced in the West, because of how it allows everyone to receive equal opportunity to have education and make politically informed choices.

All three students expressed their gratitude to their professors and fellow students for their support from start to finish, which made their projects possible.

Skyline College President Melissa Moreno mentioned that she had never before seen an event that showcased the works of conducting research in the aforementioned fields, especially when she had attended De Anza College. She was proud of the effort put into assembling the symposium, and described it to be an incredible opportunity for students.

The event’s faculty research panelists and keynote address speaker each provided the scope about their own research process, the gist of how they started the research, the challenges faced in accomplishing them, and their advice for students taking on the task with their chosen topic.

“It’s also important to follow your passion,” Dr. Tony Jackson, who is one of the panelists, said. “That passion is going to keep you engaged and involved when things get tough.”

Dr. Liza Erpelo, who is another panelist, shared her words of believing in yourself, trusting the process and not comparing yourself to anyone else in terms of each journey, and the research process being different.

The researcher decides when they want to conclude their research once they find the answer to their question or to continue exploring more ideas that would lead to other dimensions for a different project, professor and panelist Kaylee Matheny brought up in the discussion.

Attendees in the event had been supportive of each individual’s contribution and were active in raising questions pertaining to the research and the story behind it.

The organizers are hoping for the second annual uSOAR to take place on campus next year. A recording is available on Zoom for those who missed out on the event.

All the efforts and planning exerted for putting together the event sought to inspire more students to be invested in their own research and contribute their own findings for the future of academic enrichment and tackling relatable issues.