By Warren Gross and Brian Baker, The Whetstone
Scholars Day at Wesley College has grown to be one of the biggest events during the year.
Dr. Jeffery Gibson, associate professor of English, was co-chair of the first Scholars day.
“I came here in 2005 and asked the dean at the time if there was any money set aside so that students could present their papers to an audience,” Gibson said.
He co-chaired the first Scholars Day Committee with Dr. Bruce Allison.
Five years ago when Dr. Patricia Dwyer, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost, arrived at Wesley, she quickly realized how big an event Scholars Day had become.
“Since I arrived, the celebration of student research has only expanded with many more departments participating,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer thinks the work of the committee sets up the success of students on Scholars Day.
“The organizing committee plays the most important role,” she said. “They spend hours making sure that all the details are covered. This means soliciting and selecting proposals, scheduling the event, staffing each presentation with facilitators, and organizing the logistics of set-up.”
Scholars Day is one of the few days of the school year where an event is centered around academics.
“Scholars Day is important to the college in general to have some time to really focus on the academic work that students are doing in all areas across the college campus,” Gibson said. “Everybody from science, to nursing, to political science – most students know what’s going on in their majors, but don’t know what’s happening in others. Scholar’s Day gives us a forum where students can put their work and achievements on display.”
Dwyer said it was her favorite day of the academic year.
“I am so impressed with the level of student research, and I salute the faculty for their efforts to mentor our students and prepare them for this event,” she said. “For me, undergraduate research continues to play an important role in defining the Wesley experience, Scholar’s Day typifies the level of energy and participation that keeps growing and growing.”
Students must be prepared to present their work and that means the presentation must be prepared properly.
“Presenting at Scholars Day goes well beyond simply knowing the material,” Dwyer said. “To stand up in front of peers and the college community to explain their ideas or discuss their research in terms people understand give students confidence, communication skills, and the ability to synthesize big ideas.”
Faculty expect the day to grow.
“Scholar’s Day was always meant to be college wide, but the number of presentations and sessions has grown significantly since the first year,” Gibson said. “I think we might even be ready to extend it to a full day. Someday it may grow enough to host students from other colleges. I would love to see that.”
Students who participate in Scholars Day are proud of the work they did over the course of the year, and are happy Scholars Day gives them a great experience.
“Scholars Day is definitely a new experience for me,” said sophomore Danielle Reid. “I don’t particularly like talking to people in groups but it was a good experience.”
“I feel it’s an accomplishment to have one of my pictures up for Scholar’s Day, it really means a lot to me,” said senior Kennard Squirell.
Students reflect on the work they have done this academic year.
“I presented a collaboration I did as a media arts student with Dr. James’ first year seminar,” Reid said. “Last semester we helped her living-learning community make public service announcements with our video production class.”
“My picture describes the sense of humor [my subject] has,” said Squirell. “She has a good personality and she wears it on the outside, I tried to show that in my photo.”