Kean University Students Present at National Conference


Yisely Arias, a junior studying bilingual education and Spanish, and Nicole Zic, a senior studying Spanish secondary education, had original research accepted by the National Conference for Undergraduate Research. They presented their work at NCUR, held at the University of Memphis on April 7-8.

“Having research accepted at NCUR is one of the top honors an undergraduate student can receive,” said Gregory Shepherd, Ph.D, coordinator of world languages at Kean University and the students’ research advisor. “By collaborating with Yisely and Nicole in their growth in analytical skills, critical thinking and professional writing, I get to celebrate those moments when the light goes on, and they realize the power these developing skills will have in their profession as educators.”

Arias’ research examined the enigmatic Dominican dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. She weighed social and economic progress in education and infrastructure against violence, censorship and fear in determining the overall value of Trujillo’s policies.

“It was a unique and unforgettable experience,” said Arias, an Elizabeth resident who plans to pursue a master’s degree in psychology after graduation. “I had the opportunity to present with students from all over the country and did my best to represent Kean University with great pride. At the same time, I learned a lot from the colleagues who presented, especially in the field of education.”

Zic’s research focused on the magical realism elements in Carlos Fuentes novel Aura. She traced connections between historical and mythical phenomena within the novel to propose multiple meanings for characters and symbols. 

“Working with Dr. Shepherd is very rewarding,” said Zic, of Old Bridge. “He not only helps his students realize their potential, but he also shows his students how to think critically and look at situations from different angles. I plan on returning to school for my master’s degree and then my Ph.D. My goal is to return to a university and teach Latin American literature.”

Both Arias and Zic plan to submit their work in essay format, which is a more competitive process that would give them an opportunity to be published in the NCUR conference proceedings in June. 

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