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Student success at forefront of symposium

By Laura Traister
On April 2, 2014

  • Becca Irvin, one of the presenting students of the symposium, discusses her project with one of the interested guests. Trish Gibson

The Boland Undergraduate Research Symposium fulfilled its high hopes put up by faculty and students.
The ninth annual symposium, which took place on Tuesday at the Millennium Centre, was the largest ever with more than 90 students presenting in some capacity.
Students were encouraged to present on any stage of research.
There were short talks, complete thesis presentations, and also various performances and art displays.
Kelsey Stubbs, a University Honors Scholar, was one of the many students who presented at the symposium. In her case, a thesis presentation was mandatory for that particular honors program, but she "chose to present at the Boland specifically because it's a great way for lots of students and professors to convene and learn about each other's research."
The non-competitive symposium's purpose is not just to present, but also to listen and to engage in conversation about research from various disciplines. Some attendees traveled from one room to another to view as many presentations as they could. Some students attended their friends' presentations and then rushed off to do their own.
Stubbs summed up this sense of shared scholarship and support: "Without the Boland, I would not have had such a large audience at my presentation, and I wouldn't have gotten to appreciate the research of so many classmates."
Like many students, she started the research process about halfway through her undergraduate career and has spent about two academic years working on her thesis. Stubbs' thesis was titled ... and was advised by Dr. Martha Michieka.
Many diverse disciplines were represented, including digital media, psychology, criminal justice, theatre, literature, biology and biomedical sciences.  
Faculty members welcomed attendees at the beginning of each of the sessions, and student volunteers served as moderators by introducing each individual presenter.
The experience that students gain and the conversations they foster at the symposium are immensely valuable to them after they complete their undergraduate degree.
Experience in conducting research and presenting findings can lead to success in acquiring jobs or acceptance into graduate school. Some students may plan to continue this research at a graduate level. Moreover, this learning experience can start conversations and yield results that have tangible effects.
On Stubbs' part, the experience helped her "with confidence speaking in front of large groups, especially in an academic or professional setting."
"Thanks to being on stage singing for so many years, I've always been pretty comfortable speaking. But the symposium made me realize how fulfilling it could be to present my own work and discuss it with others."
She speaks for many other students who were involved in the symposium by offering sincere thanks "to the Honors College and the Boland Family for giving us the chance to share our research."

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