Students stand and deliver oral presentations

Read some “snapshots” of the oral presentation segment from the 2015 Academic Symposium at Saint Michael’s College April 23-25:

Tech-palooza: Friday afternoon in the Jeanmarie basement, at a sort of techie open-house, Robotics Club students showed off a Lego-based creation they built called “Rolly,” that has been a hit with Boys and Girls club kids for whom they present programs as service.  Computer graphics students stood by to explain their projects on the room’s many computers. Amy McGann ’15, information systems major from Hanover, MA, has been working as a web developer at Keurig Green Mountain and her related project was “User Interface Design for Cultural Diversity,” covering how people work and perceive things based on culture in ways that affect preferences and usability for websites.

Costumed history: Saturday morning on a first-floor St. Edmunds classroom, American Studies major Monica McClure from Crystal Lake, IL, wore a vintage Red Cross uniform as she presented about Clara Barton’s mission to convince the U.S. Congress to sign the Geneva Conventions. Topics throughout the day in that room ranged from ideologies and empires to historic treaties, powerful queens, public schools in the Civil War, Boy Scouts, performance-enhancing drugs, Key West and the moral issues of private prisons. Next door in the writers-reading room, students read both poetry and fiction that treated themes such as the Holocaust, young love and responses to literature. The poetry was in many different styles: Tylik Williams-Prince of Brooklyn, NY, read one in the style of e.e cummings, and also a sonnet and some free-verse. Later at the poster session at Dion, Williams-Prince was with some business-class teammates, Will Davis of New York City and Nate Taylor of Connecticut, explaining their research on an industry facing changing regulations: legalized marijuana, with implications for public policy, economics and social issues.

Politics: It’s everywhere: Up on Jeanmarie’ s third floor Saturday morning, political science presenters included Theresa Barsanti explaining her internship with University of Vermont athletics that launched her on a promising potential career in NCAA regulation oversight and enforcement. Then Ilit Bavly, who is from Israel, talked about research into inequitable water access and environmental peace-building in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Other student topics there were U.N. courts and 1970s environmental politics.

Running the gamut: Tim Nagy ’15, a religious studies major from Massachusetts who also takes business classes, was scurrying Friday: he was part of the second-place team in the Enterprise Competition at the Alumni Center, then had to cut out early to make his major presentation across the street for a packed Jeanmarie classroom crowd gathered to hear his Religious Studies presentation about Bonhoeffer, the popular and provocative German Protestant writer from the Nazi Era whose views on “the role of suffering in discipleship” interested Nagy. The audience included Society of Saint Edmund Superior General Rev. Steven Hornat and former dean/prominent Augustine scholar John Kenney, who both had questions afterward, and Nagy supplied thoughtful, satisfactory answers. After the talk, a fellow student told Nagy,  “I learned so much.” “Me too!” Nagy replied.

First-order Classics Scholarship: Samantha Harris ’15, a classics major from Brattleboro and the sole person from her major to make an oral presentation at the Symposium, spent a semester studying at Oxford University in England while a Saint Michael's undergraduate student and plans to return there after graduation for a master’s in Latin literature in a nine-month program. Her mentor Carol Begley noted that Harris also is a world-class Irish step dancer and is therefore off-campus doing that four or five days a week as teacher and performer -- but also does reading groups in Greek and Latin with other Saint Michael's students and professors.

Peggy Imai, a staff member for the College's Study Abroad programs who attended Harris’s presentation on “Ekphrastic Representation in Aeneid 6.20-33,” said it reminded her of a doctoral dissertation defense in its sophisticated content and challenging questions from her classics mentors.

Harris explained later that the term Ekphrastic involves “descriptions of art in text,” and  said she would like to take modern literary criticism concepts she learned in a Saint Michael’s English course with Professor Nat Lewis to apply to her readings in Virgil, if possible. For a career, she is “interested in staying in academia somehow, whether that means going on for a more advanced degree or maybe teaching Latin in high school, since I love the dance students of that age I’m working with.”

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