PRCC students excel at Honors Conference

Published 11:05 am Wednesday, February 22, 2023

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Five Pearl River Community College students recently participated in the annual Mississippi Honors Conference hosted this year in Fulton. 

PRCC students came away with four awards, more than any other two-year college, while tying the leading four-year institution, Mississippi University for Women. 

PRCC winners included: 

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Humanities/Social Sciences Community College Oral Presentation: 

-Second place: Kathryn Scharwath of Hattiesburg. 

-Third place: Andrew Purvis of Sumrall. 

STEM/Health Sciences Community Colleges Poster Presentation: 

-First place: Honor Elchos of Hattiesburg. 

-Third place: Carlo Catlett of Hattiesburg. 

Also, Sarah Williams of Hattiesburg competed in Social Science Poster Presentation. 

They are all members of the Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute at PRCC. 

“The MHC offers a unique opportunity for four-year and two-year college students to present their undergraduate research and learn from each other while competing in their own two-year or four-year categories,” said Dr. Ryan Ruckel, Dean, Dr. William Lewis Honors Institute, Forrest County Campus. 

“Leadership of the Lewis Honors Institute helped originate the concept of the MHC, and Pearl River students have won top honors every year for a decade.” 

Scharwath, 17, a PRCC Middle College and Oak Grove High School student, says finishing second in Oral Presentation “makes me feel good about my future.” 

She plans to attend Ole Miss and major in Philosophy. She serves as vice president of Phi Theta Kappa and is a member of the History and Humanities Club. 

Purvis’ oral presentation was looking at World War II films from three cultures that participated and how those cultures viewed their involvement.  

Purvis, 19, said it “was exciting to win. I never thought I would win anything.” 

Elchos, 20, is a Sumrall High School graduate and extremely active on the Poplarville Campus where he serves as Vice President of Fellowship for Phi Theta Kappa, Student Government Association Secretary, Sophomore Representative for the Honors Institute, and the founder of the Mechatronics Club. After graduation from PRCC, Elchos plans to attend Mississippi State University to get a degree in biomedical engineering.   

His presentation explored the creation of a bioreactor that will apply accurate perfusion and compression while improving long-term bone explant viability.  

“It was great to feel that some of my hard work had paid off in that moment,” said Elchos. “After working on how to present my poster in a more refined manner, winning my category felt like the time was well spent. I was able to learn a lot from the experience as well as the other presenters.” 

Catlett, 21, a Sacred Heart High graduate, is a CTE student majoring in computer programing. He is a Phi Theta Kappa student. 

“Public speaking has always been my biggest fear,” said Catlett. “I set out to challenge myself and this award reminds me how fat I have come.” 

According to Dr. Ruckel, the Lewis Honors Institute hosts a Spring Symposium at the Forrest County Campus to offer a friendly environment for students to present early versions of their work and then a Fall Symposium, hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi or William Carey University, which includes a competition, and then the top entries are invited to compete at the MHC in February each year.  

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