08:01 AM

Honors Students Receive Awards at East Texas Historical Association Conference

Aimee Garcia Soto (left) and Juan Leija (right) prepare to present their first conference papers. Aimee Garcia Soto (left) and Juan Leija (right) prepare to present their first conference papers.

On Friday, Oct. 14, University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) Honors students and history majors Aimee Garcia Soto and Juan Leija, presented papers as part of a panel at the East Texas Historical Association (ETHA) Conference.

Leija presented his paper on Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) political activism in Houston during the 1970s. Soto's paper focused on the growth of Mexican-American businesses in Houston during the 1920s and '30s. Archivist Dr. Monte Monroe from Texas Tech's Southwest Collection commended the pair on their exemplary use of archival materials.

"At this event, I learned that history is more than just something that takes place in the classroom," Leija said. "Historians have to be able to present their research and respond to questions from others in their field. I really enjoyed networking with professors from other universities and hearing more about their research. After attending this conference, I feel more confident about going to graduate school."

The following day at the awards luncheon, the students received the Portia Gordon Award for best student panel. The award is named for the long time secretary of the ETHA, and honors her commitment to student success.

Only a small number of undergraduate papers were accepted for inclusion into the program at the ETHA fall meeting. The East Texas Historical Association is headquartered on the campus of Stephen F. Austin University at Nacogdoches.

Soto and Leija researched and wrote their conference papers to fulfill the requirements of an Honors contract in Dr. Nicholson-Preuss' "Houston Past and Present" class this fall. Honors students have the option of working with faculty members to develop contracts in order to earn honors credit for non-honors courses. Honors contracts require the completion of additional honors level course work, such as conference presentations or more extensive research. Both students began the research for their papers last summer.