Over fifty students present in 22nd annual academic symposium

On Friday, April 9, a record number of students presented at Goshen College’s 22nd annual Academic Symposium, an event that began in 1998 as a forum for student research and academic work to be featured and celebrated on campus.

“I think presenting at the academic symposium was a great opportunity to see everyone’s work,” said Irving Suarez, a senior psychology and biology double major. “Personally, it also helped reaffirm my passion for research by providing me a chance to showcase my work.”

Suarez’s presentation was titled “Analysis of COVID-19 in the Hispanic population of Goshen, Indiana.”

According to Beth Martin Birky, associate academic dean and director of the symposium, planning for the event usually begins in the fall, but the work on hybrid and remote learning took up so much time that planning didn’t begin until February.

“In my notes, I wrote down: ‘consider a virtual activity but keep it modest,’” Birky said. Fifty-seven students and 13 faculty members, more than any previous year, presented research and projects over the course of the day, with a live audience present.

Unlike past years, there was a variety of themed sessions proposed by professors, each focusing on a specific topic.

“Duane Stoltzfus planned a session around opinion editorial essays from Media, Law and Ethics; Julie Reese brought together psychology majors on a social media research project; Anna Kurtz Kuk involved Power of Story and Orfeo ed Euridice students; Solomia Soroka and her students presented on context for their evening recital; Jessica Baldanzi had students present their Pinchpenny Press books,” Birky said. “Core classes were also represented with three papers from Philipp Gollner’s GC Seminar and one paper from ICC.”

This year also featured the presentation of biology and biochemistry senior projects, which are usually presented in their own presentation.

“It was wonderful to have the campus exposed to their amazing research,” Birky said. “I hope that can happen again next year, and perhaps others.”

Claire Franz, junior history and secondary education major, presented her research titled “Purple, White, and Yellow: Female Professors as Guardians of Women’s Suffrage, 1869-1920.”

“Over this past semester, I’ve researched the impact of three Western female university professors on the suffrage movement at the turn of the twentieth century,” Franz said. “Throughout the process of researching and writing, I realized that my thesis was, at its heart, a declaration of who I want to become. Like my three women, I want the intersection of education and activism to meet in my classroom.”

This year, all the presentations were also available virtually via Zoom, which was coordinated by Fritz Hartman, library director.

“I was thrilled that people could participate in the symposium in a variety of ways and from every location – even outside the US,” Birky said, “Two presenters were able to contribute virtually.”

Audio recordings, videos and Google slides from each session are available on the Goshen College website under the Academic Symposium web page.

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Written by Greta Klassen, News Editor

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