Bright minds gather at Student Symposium


Michelle Kanke (left) and Luke Lyman-Barner (right) during their presentation “Kubric, Porn, and the Importance of Literary Analysis in Education” at the student Scholar Symposium – Thursday, April 21, 2016

web Michelle Kanke (left) and Luke Lyman Barner (right) during their presentation Kubric Porn and the Importance of Literary Analysis in Education at the student Scholar Symposium Thursday April 21
Michelle Kanke (left) and Luke Lyman-Barner (right) during their presentation “Kubric, Porn, and the Importance of Literary Analysis in Education” at the student Scholar Symposium – Thursday, April 21, 2016

Elizabeth Rhaney, Photo Editor

Nearly 300 students presented at this year’s Student Scholar Symposium in the Student Union.

The event included two days of student presentations from different fields including biology, art, history and gender studies. Poster presentations were held on April 20, while oral presentations were held April 21.

The event is in its 26th year. Dr. Allison Belzer has now chaired the event for five years. She said the symposium was moved from one day to two because of the increase in student participation.

Belzer said it was “an energizing thing to see all the exciting work” by students. She explained that the symposium allows freshman and sophomore students a chance to be inspired by the presentations while junior, senior and graduate students have a chance to support their peers.

Ashley Johnson, a M.A. candidate in History, presented her research at the poster session while working as a graduate assistant for the symposium. She enjoys the professional atmosphere of the event and said it was an opportunity to show students and professors that the research done in class is “not just for a grade.”

Tannie Arnsdorff, an alumnus and past Symposium presenter, said minority and first generation students benefit greatly from presenting their research. The process of developing an original idea, having faculty mentorship and sharing their ideas with their peers “gives them ownership of their own degree.”

His studies have shown that 80% of minority and first year students who participate in research symposiums go on to finish their degree and/or attend graduate school.

Each oral presentation was fifteen minutes, with five minutes for audience questions. Undergraduate student Andrew Bradford’s presentation, “Conforming to Patriarchal Superiority in a Feminist-Motivated Storyline: Grey’s Anatomy,” examined how patriarchal values were expressed in the early seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Though the show’s creator Shonda Rhimes has strong female characters and identifies as a feminist, there are still gendered stereotypes within the show. After watching all 12 seasons Bradford asked himself “what critical lens can I apply to it?” He found that a feminist lens worked well with the show’s themes.

Edna Trujillo’s presentation, “The American Delusion,” examined the difficulties that immigrants and minorities face as they try to achieve the American Dream.

Trujillo used an intersectional perspective, mixing ethnicity, gender and economic status, to deconstruct the myth behind the idea of the American Dream. She said “equal opportunity can only come when society becomes aware of white supremacy, internalized racism, colorist, name biases, etc. Minorities should be aware of these things so they can face them and not be shut down by them.”

Any student that is interested in next year’s Student Scholar Symposium can find more information on Armstrong’s website under the Current Student tab. The webpage includes a short 2 minute video that gives more details about the symposium.