Three LMU Honors Scholars Present at National Honors Conference

Emily Roark, Lily Smith and Sarah Hopkins

Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) Honors Scholars Sarah Hopkins, Emily Roark and Lily Smith were selected to present at the 57th National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) conference in Dallas, Texas. The LMU undergraduate students and Dr. Sandra Weems, the Honors Scholars program director, attended the conference at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel November 2-5.

The conference highlights student and faculty research presentations from across the nation while providing training and development for honors program administrators and staff. The conference theme, “Centering Community,” examined the ways that honors colleges and programs create and center communities, knowing that students are far more likely to succeed when the feel they reside in communities that value and understand them.

The national submission process for the NCHC annual conference is highly selective, with hundreds of students and faculty submitting proposals each year Weems guided the students through the submission process. The Associate Professor of English also worked with students at the conference in a professionalization session, coaching the to craft and deliver effective elevator pitches.

“A presentation at the NCHC conference provides each individual with a unique opportunity to showcase the work being done in honors across the globe. However, each presenter also impacts the culture of the network, providing other honors colleagues a chance to discuss the topic, exploring collaborations, research, and innovation,” said NCHC Executive Director Mary Beth Rathe.

Sarah HopkinsHopkins, of Sneedville, Tennessee, presented an oral presentation on an interdisciplinary student panel about the effect of E-Cigarette aerosol on the mortality and size of c. elegans. She is a senior pre-health biology major who will graduate on Saturday, December 10. In addition to being an Honors Scholar, Hopkins is also member of LMU’s Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) leadership honor society.

Lily SmithSmith, of Jacksboro, Tennessee, is a senior nursing major. She presented a poster presentation entitled “The Role of Centrosomes in Rhabdomyosarcoma Myogenesis” at NCHC. The display highlighted Smith’s research which has explored how centrosomes play a role within a specific cell line of Rhabdomyosarcoma. Smith has looked at a set time frame and dosage of a type of drug that inhibits the centrosome of the cells and would like to further explore different time frames and dosage concentrations to compare to her current research. She recently changed her major to nursing. Ultimately, Smith would like to become an advanced practice nurse or physician assistant and work in pediatrics.

Emily RoarkRoark, of Knoxville, Tennessee, is a senior biology and education major. She presented a poster presentation entitled “The Activity of Ticks in Various Habitats and Times of Day and Corresponding Infection Status with Borrelia spp. and Babesia spp.”  Roark will complete student teaching next semester and plans to graduate in May 2023 with a teaching certification for 6-12 biology. She hopes to begin teaching in middle or high school next fall and eventually earn a master’s degree in instructional leadership.

“This experience (at the national conference), and all other experiences with the Honors Scholars, has been enriching both culturally and academically. Being able to communicate with fellow honors program members allows me to expand my knowledge of academia far beyond what I would experience in a classroom,” Roark said. “Experiencing Texas in an academic and cultural way was so enlightening. We visited the schoolbook depository where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, met a New York Times bestselling author, ate a variety of different international cuisines, met a leading Texas LGBTQ+ advocate and visited science museums.”

“The Honors Scholars program has caused me to push harder in my courses. I chose honors contract courses that I felt would help me in my future career and by having them as honors courses, I was able to do extra assignments and research,” Smith said. “The program is a great way to get involved on campus and it is really nice to have the option of choosing the courses related to your future as what you take as honors courses. I thought it pushed me to learn more about the things that I thought would help me later.”

Hopkins agrees that her Honors Scholars experience has enhanced her undergraduate journey. “My career in Honors Scholars at LMU has made me not only a better student, but also a more inquisitive adult,” she said. “I would tell students considering this path that if they are on the fence about applying to just go ahead and try. I love learning and Honors Scholars helped me develop a deeper understanding of those subjects I took for honors credit.”

The LMU Honors Scholars program promotes undergraduate scholarship and encourages intellectual dialogue among students. It deepens values through an approach of critical reading and writing courses reinforced with service learning and increased social and cultural collaboration. The LMU Honors Scholars education is marked by its interdisciplinary nature and course objectives that focus on analysis, synthesis, and application. A service ethic is reinforced by activities and responsibilities throughout the program where students reach out to fellow students and to the broader community. To learn more contact Weems at or click here.

The NCHC is a non-profit organization whose mission is to support and enhance the community of educational institutions, professionals and students who participate in collegiate honors education around the world. NCHC members total nearly 800 institutions from the United States and around the world. Learn more by visiting

Lincoln Memorial University is a values-based learning community dedicated to providing educational experiences in the liberal arts and professional studies. The main campus is located in Harrogate, Tennessee. For more information about the undergraduate and graduate programs available at LMU, contact the Office of Admissions at 423-869-6280 or email at

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