News Story

May 08, 2018

La Roche Students Present at Honors Convocation

PITTSBURGH, May 8, 2018 – Eight graduating seniors at La Roche College recently presented honors theses at the annual Honors Convocation.

The attainment of such honors signifies the highest approbation the College can bestow upon an outstanding student and is considered a reflection of mutual scholarly attainment by both the student and the College community. Under the direction and guidance of a committee of La Roche faculty, students conduct research, write and then present their theses at the College’s annual Honors Convocation.

These students presented the following projects at the 2018 Honors Convocation:

Margaret Briggs of Rector
“Poverty in Appalachia: A Critical Look at the Underclass of Rural America”
Honors in Sociology

Heather Clay of Pittsburgh
“Engaging People Through the News to Connect with the World and Their Community in a Positive Way”
Honors in Graphic Design

Connor Forsythe of Pittsburgh
“Does Business Have a Heart?”
Honors Institute

Bradley Gray of Irwin
“Safety and Security of Autonomous Vehicle Technology from a Computer Software Perspective”
Honors Institute

Charleigh Smith of Sugar Grove
“Speak Up”
Honors Institute

Kristen Spezialetti of Aliquippa
“Steel City’s Hidden Industry: A Sociological Analysis of Sex Trafficking in Western Pennsylvania”
Honors in English Studies: Professional Writing and Journalism

Zachary Weaver of Valencia
“Computing and Natural Resources in the Information Age”
Honors Institute

Taylor Zediker of Valencia
“College Students and Stress Management”
Honors Institute

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean Howard Ishiyama, Ph.D., said, “We are proud of these outstanding graduates who continue to set the bar of academic excellence. The La Roche community congratulates these graduates, and we look forward to watching them take the next step in their careers.” 

Heather Clay received the Richard G. Kotarba Outstanding Honors Presentation Award for her honors thesis. Established in honor of Richard B. Kotarba, a long-time member of the La Roche board of trustees, this award is given for the best honors project presentation and is accompanied by a cash award of $1,000. 

Ms. Clay’s project examined negativity and sensationalism in the news and how it negatively affects us. She also proposed a solution to counter the detrimental effects of negative media with the beneficial effects of doing good deeds.

Ms. Clay proposed to create an interactive website called Alt9 that would encourage people to perform, record and share good stories to lift their spirits and to create a ripple effect of good will that inspires others.


The Honors Institute at La Roche cultivates intellectual discourse and promotes scholarly achievement. Designed for exemplary students, the program embraces challenges and provides outstanding educational opportunities that will serve as a pathway to a successful future.

Supporting the La Roche mission, the Honors Institute seeks to broaden and deepen academic excellence, and introduces students to alternative viewpoints, contemporary social issues and the call to better the world.

About La Roche College: A private liberal arts college in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, La Roche College offers more than 50 undergraduate majors, six graduate degree programs and one doctoral program, with particular strengths in education, business, criminal justice, psychology, and health and medical sciences as well as interior design and graphic design. This residential college provides a vibrant campus community for more than 1,500 men and women enjoying 30-plus student organizations and an exciting NCAA Div. III athletics program. Founded by the Sisters of Divine Providence in 1963, La Roche College embraces its Catholic heritage while welcoming people of all faiths and backgrounds. With a legacy of social justice and a commitment to international exchange, La Roche College educates students to be lifelong learners and achievers in an increasingly diverse and global society.

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