Last Saturday, 23 students participated in the academic symposium.

The contestants competed for two different prizes: the Audience Choice Award and the Director’s Prize. According to Jo-Ann Brant, Faculty Program Director, the Audience Choice is determined by ballots cast by the audience and the Director’s Prize is determined by feedback from the chairs of the session, faculty members, the assistant director's observations and her own assessment.

The contestants presented on a variety of subjects. According to a press release on the Goshen College website, “Besides thesis papers and investigations using the scientific method, presentations include expositions on the creative process and innovative techniques.”

This year, the symposium had three winners. Audience Choice Awards went to Madeleine Yoder with her presentation entitled “Embodying Tradition in Unsettled Times: An Ethnography of Hymn Singing on a College Campus,” Department of Sociology, and Aranza Torres with her presentation entitled “Power and Privilege in the Working Relationship: Social Work Practice with Undocumented Clients,” Department of Social Work.

The Director’s Prize went to Anna Costanza for her presentation “Characterization of Primary Production and Community Composition of Marine Phytoplankton from the San Francisco Bay Area,” Department of Biology.

Overall, Brant feels that the symposium was a success. “It went really well; smoothly. At the end there were no cookies left and more beverages were consumed than previous years, so I think it was a success. It was an indication that people enjoyed it enough to stick around and nibble,” she laughed.

Hayley Brooks, a senior, also felt that the symposium went well and was a good experience for her.

“It was a good opportunity to present my book outside of the release party and share more about my creative process…I enjoy talking about the role of writing in my life and the ways poetry has shaped my voice and how I understand myself and the world,” said Brooks.

For Brooks, the symposium was also a learning experience. “The process of preparing for my presentation was a bit unconventional. I had not previously written a paper about my book specifically, so preparing required a sort of meta-analysis of my book. There are a lot of assumptions we carry into our creative processes and preparing for the presentation allowed me to name what some of my assumptions are. When you have to explain your work to someone else, you can't take for granted all the nuances of revising, editing and creating poetry (or any other type of art).”

Both Brant and Brooks feel that the symposium is an important tradition for students to experience. Brant believes that the symposium is most beneficial for students who are planning on going onto graduate school or those that may have to give presentations to colleagues in the future. She also believes that it looks good on a resume and will help set students apart.

Brooks also believes that the symposium helps to connect majors across GC’s campus. She stated that “Symposiums like this allow us to get out of our little corner of the academy: we are able to see the ways that disciplines intersect and can benefit from each other.”