As part of the Spring 2014 colloquia course UHC 397-998: Mayan Culture & Religion, students were given the opportunity to attend an academic symposium. Hosted in New Orleans, students attended the 11th Annual Tulane Maya Symposium & Workshop: On the Maya Trail: Ancient Travelers, Epic Voyages, which brought together experts to discuss the Maya, focusing on the importance of travel within the Maya civilization and culture.
The symposium was an amazing experience for me. I was able to learn a lot about various topics from the presenters, whose fields included Bioarchaeology, Art History, Linguistics, Anthropology, and History. My favorite presentations dealt with Maya epigraphy, linguistics, and paintings. I was also happy to be at Tulane University in New Orleans for the symposium; it lent a very nice atmosphere to the conference and its activities.
By attending this symposium, students were able to see professional academics coming together to discuss their research and further the field as a whole.
Attending this symposium changed my outlook on research. I not only got a glimpse of what life is like in the field of academia, but I also learned that it was something I could see myself doing some day. It was great to see so many people of the same field come from all over the country to introduce what they have been working on and catch up as old friends.
Professionals from the field were numerous at this conference, and the opportunity to ask questions and hear interesting new ideas only enhances the experience of anyone with the benefit to attend these sorts of conferences. I myself am actually a math major, and I still think that listening to these discussions were beneficial to me, even if I did feel out of my field at times.
Missouri State University and the Honors College encourage students at every level to get involved with research by attending conferences and doing their own research. These opportunities not only show students what is happening in their field, but also give students the ability to discover and explore what they are passionate about.
I believe it is very important for undergraduate students to attend professional academic conferences in their field. They can get a feel for the professional research that is being conducted, as well as get a feel for the type of conference they might present at in the future. It is also an excellent networking tool to attend these conferences and meet the top professionals in the field.