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Amanda Turcios ’20 Wins Undergraduate Research Prize at HERA Conference

The Humanities Education and Research Association (HERA) has a mission to promote the study of the humanities across the globe. The organization encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, including history, philosophy and religion, performing and visual arts and media, anthropology and more.

Each year the four-day HERA Undergraduates Humanities Conference takes place to bring together these disciplines and celebrate them. Turcios first took an interest in the event after learning about it through Professor M. Nzadi Keita’s Philly X course, “Philly Word”. In the course, students were asked to write a lyric essay as an end-of-semester assignment. Turcios used her finished paper to apply to the conference.

“I had no idea they were going to accept me because it seemed like such a prestigious event,” Turcios said.

Not only was her proposal accepted, but Turcios won the $500 HERA Undergraduate Humanities Prize, which is awarded to the best undergraduate conference paper that addresses race, ethnicity, gender, or sexuality.

Turcios was excited to meet people from all over the country. She was also one of a small number of undergraduates to attend the conference. “A majority of the students who were in the competition and presenting at the conference were all graduate students getting their doctorates or masters degrees. I felt almost under-qualified in a way,” she said. “I’m glad I got the exposure because I was able to inquire more about graduate school, which is something I want to pursue in the future.”

The cross-country trip was funded by the English department, the Philly X Fund, the anthropology and sociology department, diversity fellows and the Institute for Inclusion and Equity.

Until the conference, the New York native had never traveled beyond the bounds of the east coast, so the trip to Chicago was an exciting new adventure. Between conference events, Turcios’s days were spent wandering the city and trying new foods while sightseeing. —By Mary Lobo ’15