On Wednesday, April 8, the College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Symposium showcased some of the brightest and most accomplished students at Ashland University. I had the privilege of sponsoring two students presenting on Frances Burney's 1778 novel Evelina—English majors Emily Cardwell and Kristin Herrick—both of whom delivered sophisticated arguments about the representation of gender in this important literary text. Both essays grew out of an assignment for English 408: Eighteenth Century English Literature. It was gratifying for me to witness the evolution and refinement of their ideas, from brainstorming for their essays in the course to adapting their writings to an oral presentation format. In a testament to the impact of our Core classes, Charles Michel, a math major, presented on the representation of capitalism in the film Glengarry Glenn Ross. His sponsor was Dr. Maura Grady.
Integrated Language Arts major Megan Scarberry presented on E.M. Forester's A Passage to India, which originated in an essay for Dr. Sharleen Mondal's Literature and Gender course. Megan found value not only in the experience of presenting, but also the opportunity to learn from the other students: "I really enjoyed the opportunity to present at the symposium on Wednesday. It was awesome to be able to share my work with the student body, professors, and the community. It was also very interesting to see presentations from other fields of study while learning about things I may never have otherwise."
Creative Writing major Garrison Stima read a personal essay originating in a writing workshop course, concerning an encounter on a mission trip in Chicago that changed his understanding of his faith. He describes the development of the project:
The piece I wrote began as an assignment for my Problems in Creative Writing class where we were asked to describe a moment or short scene in great detail, trying to keep the action within a short span of time. After completing the first draft and reading it to the class, my professor and URCA sponsor, Joe Mackall, encouraged me to submit my work to the URCA symposium.
I ended up doing so, and the process of preparing the piece was an interesting one because this was the first scene I jumped to when we were given the assignment and the first nonfiction work I'd ever written. We worked for weeks on it as I attempted and eventually managed to grasp the right words to describe this powerful fragment of my life.
Actually presenting at the URCA symposium was a far easier task, despite baring my soul to a crowd made-up of mostly strangers, because the people organizing the symposium were quick to help and answer any questions I had from start to finish. I had no problems working with anyone affiliated with URCA and they only aided the process of presenting and solidified my experience in an extremely positive manner.