Academic Symposium

Academic Symposium showcases student achievement

May 1, 2019
Megan Beatty '20

Directly above, Kara Hettinger ’19tells Saint Michael’s President Lorraine Sterrit and her husband, Bert Lain, about her Environmental Studies project involving the health of soil around the Saint Michael’s campus, during Saturday’s poster session for all disciplines in the Roy Room. (photo  above by Eva Wilton ’19)

Students from all different disciplines presented their own research projects in the St. Mike’s Academic Symposium, from Wednesday, April 24 through Saturday, April 27.

Students majoring in Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts presented their projects on Wednesday, in the Roy Room in the Dion Family Student Center. Some of these students include Lily Bonadies, Shannon Kelley, Natalie Jackson, and Elisabeth O’Donnell.

Lily Bonadies presented her book, titled Learn to the Beat of your Own Drum on the subject of learning disabilities and different methods of educating in the classroom. She discusses the stigma surrounding learning disabilities, and the effect this stigma can have on the one out of every five students in the United States who has a learning difference. For example, she quoted the U.S. Department of Education: “Students with learning disabilities tend to have higher levels of emotional concerns, such as depression, loneliness, and low self-esteem than do their peers without disabilities.” In the work she was presenting, she addressed the need for better resources in special education departments.

Shannon Kelley and Natalie Jackson’s created a web documentary about benefits that working dogs bring to the Northeast region of the United States. They discussed the ethics of the confusion around what qualifies as a service animal; for example, often people claim that their dog is a certified service dog through false certificates, which “diminishes the validity of those that really do need their certified service dogs to help them get around.” They also discussed the way dogs are portrayed in the media, in shows like Paw Patrol, or the movie Balto, which is based on a true story. Additionally, they reported on how dogs are used for a variety of purposes, from federal and state tasks to service support, to recreation.

Elisabeth O’Donnell published a book on women in the workforce, and why the balance between work and family is posed as a women’s issue. She discussed the intersection between the workplace and the home, which have really been two separate spheres since the industrial revolution. O’Donnell said that these systems became increasingly gendered, citing the example of the 1950s housewife. Today, women face different internal struggles and judgements from others in the workplace.

On Friday, April 26,, students from all different majors presented their projects in various classrooms across campus. Some of these students include Amanda Dombroski, an Anthropology/Sociology major, Makayla Foster and Keyana Smith, English majors, and Hannah Mishriky, who presented research completed while she was abroad.

Amanda Dombroski presented on the subject of violence against women in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where she had the opportunity to study abroad. Through her study abroad provider, SIT, she was partnered with a graduate program that helped her create her research plan. Dombroski said that “seventy percent of women are estimated to experience some form of abuse in their lifetimes in Bolivia,” and this is probably a low estimate considering the problem of underreporting. Furthermore, the rate of femicide in Bolivia is one of the highest in South America. She also discussed the psychological effects on survivors, including anxiety, depression, tendency to withdraw, low self-esteem, and even epilepsy.

Makayla Foster and Keyana Smith both read chapters of memoirs that they wrote. Foster’s was titled Natures Solace During Adversity: A Memoir, and was about her life growing up on a Vermont dairy farm, living amongst nature, and coming to terms with her father’s death. Keyana Smith’s was titled Schools and Struggles: A Memoir, and was about her experiences a student of color, as well as reclaiming her African American and Caribbean culture.

Hannah Mishriky’s presentation was titled “What to expect when you’re expecting: The impacts China’s Maternal and Child Health Care Law has had on Tibetan Birthing Practices in the Diquing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.” Mishriky was able to conduct research while abroad, in the urban center of Shangri-La and the nearby village of Trinyl. She collected data through interviews and observation. She provided information about traditional Tibetan beliefs surrounding birth, including the concept of the Bardo Consciousness. This is like the Western notion of the soul, and is believed to be released from the body when a person dies and then transferred to a new baby. She also discussed birth registration, and how the Maternal and Child Health Care Law requires that children be born in a hospital or with a licensed midwife.

These presentations are only a small sample of the ones displayed throughout the Academic Symposium. Saturday featured more presentations including creative writing and history in St. Edmund’s Hall in the morning, and then posters displayed from all disciplines in the Dion Family Student Center for several hours starting late morning and lasting several hours as hundreds of faculty, staff fellow students, parents and other supporters stopped and asked about student work. These presentations showed the dedication and diligence of St. Mike’s students.

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