Showcasing student scholarship

Junior Chelsea Sheehan stands professionally with her hands tucked behind her back, waiting for someone’s interest to peek enough for them to stop and ask her about her poster.

The title, “Time to Weigh In,” lines the top and when asked, she begins her well practice and strong presentation on body image, perfectionism, eating disorders and self-esteem.

“In the end, what we found,” Sheehan concludes after about seven minutes of carefully thought out points, “is that self-evaluation ‘image’ tests can be really harmful to girls and women in young age groups. By simply asking a participant to disclose or not disclose their weight and height, as well as their reasoning for disclosure or nondisclosure, we found a way to look at whether or not revealing your weight and height correlates to your risks of eating disorders.”

Sheehan is just one of the many students lining the 1787 room May 2 to celebrate their scholarly work with the greater college community and their peers.

Although many departments already require final project presentations, theatre and dance recitals or capstones, this event allowed for students in every discipline to come forth and show their work in a more general and open setting.

Students presented over 20 different projects featuring anything from scientific studies on social support for injured athletes to the effect of indigenous peoples on Latin American culture.

Associate Academic Dean Ingrid Johnston-Robledo, who helped organize the planning community in charge of the event, said she was really happy with the turn out.

“Not only with the people who came out to show support of the students, but that so many students were willing to participate…I can tell they have such ownership over their work,” said Johnston-Robledo.

Johnston-Robledo, who suggested the idea of the end of the year showcase, said the idea came from her work with another institution.

“We always did a big end of the year exhibition, so I thought it would be something great to do here as well,” she said.

Academic Dean Tony Peffer applauded the event and the students involved in presenting their work.

“Teaching is the core of who we are as a school, but one of the things we are trying to teach is how to be a professional in a chosen field,” said Peffer. “So, I see the research and creative endeavor as really the application of what’s been taught.”

Peffer said that this type of presentation space leaves him feeling proud of students work.

“Professors are mentors, but this is really, in reality, all their work,” he said.

Students seem to be excited about the opportunity to present and discuss their work as well.

“Although we haven’t gotten test subjects to test out our theories, we have been working a ton on how to actually present our findings,” said junior Anna Olsen, whose work with professor Melinda Mills focuses on female exercise and socialization.

Junior Ryan Ackerman, who presented on his editorial cartoons in The Spartan, said the opportunity was new to him.

“It’s cool especially for me. The cartoons go into the paper, I don’t get to see the reaction. And now, I see people walking by and laughing and that’s great,” Ackerman said smiling.

“That’s the hardest part,” he adds, “refining an idea to make it funny and current and applicable.”

Johnson-Robledo hopes that this will become a bigger annual event that helps to promote the hard work students from all departments engage in.

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