Senior Symposium Attracts Large Crowd – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Senior Symposium Attracts Large Crowd

More than 300 people attended the 2012 Senior Symposium to hear the creativity, passion, intellect and academic efforts of the 88 student participants.

“This year’s Symposium was one of our most successful to date,” says Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning Ruth Shields. “Now in its fourth year, the Symposium really showcases the faculty involvement, from the preparation with students to their presence on the day of the presentations. This year, the students were more engaged than ever before, with many of their student and professor associations evolving into more professional relationships.” 

Garnering crowds of roughly 15 people, each panel revolved around a theme, including topics such as “Perspectives and History” and “Disrupting Stereotypes.” Several classes attended one or another of the panels while some professors advised multiple students for their presentations, including Assistant Professor of Education Khuram Hussain.

“Senior Symposium is an important event because it offers students a broader forum to communicate their intellectual journey,” explains Hussain. “Participating students, including the M.A.T. students I advised, were provided with the opportunity to practice articulating the character and significance of their remarkable projects in the presence of an engaging cross section of the campus community.”

In addition to a large representation of HWS students, faculty and staff, other audience members included proud families, friends and colleagues.

“I came today to hear the presentation of Melissa Warner ’12, who was presenting about her translation of Russian writer Tatyana Tolstaya’s story, ‘Date with a Bird,” says Knoxville, Tenn. native Anne Wellbaum, who met Warner while the two were studying abroad in Yaroslavl, Russia. “I also had the chance to learn about other topics covered by the panelists. It was a really worthwhile experience.”

Kathy Ross P’12, along with her children Gillian and Sean, of Ithaca, N.Y., attended the “Community Needs and Design” panel to support her daughter, Emily Ross ’12, who presented as part of a group. “After learning only yesterday that the panels were open to the public, we came to support my daughter, Emily,” explains Kathy.

Although many seniors presented research that they had completed in the course of their Honors projects, others provided class-based research that they compiled as part of a senior seminar, including one of the groups participating in the “Getting the Word Out” panel.  

After consulting for Ontario County Veteran Equity as part of their class with Professor of Sociology Jack Harris, Michael Brown ’12, Meagan Coakley ’12, Jarrid Fish ’12 and Mary Jameson ’12 presented on their project compiling different resources for veterans, including services that helped with housing, jobs and food. Showcasing a tangible database that the organization now offers on their website, the group fielded questions from the audience about the credibility of their sources and how they collected data.

“Presenting as part of the Senior Symposium gives you the opportunity to learn how to disseminate your findings to the community in a clear and effective way,” explains Brown, a sociology major and media and society minor. “The symposium taught us how to explain our methodology and data coding in a way that was comprehensive, yet simple enough for non-sociology majors to understand.”

Representing a wide range of disciplines, the Symposium offered students the opportunity to gain valuable presenting skills that will serve them in future endeavors, whether that means entry into the professional world, graduate school or service work.

“After participating last year as a senior, I decided to return to present this year as an M.A.T. student because I think it is a great forum to express your interests and engage in dialogue with others who share your interests and hopefully learned something from your presentation,” says Kevin Matteson ’11, MAT ’12, a Spanish and Hispanic studies major with a double minor in education and public policy.

For more information about this year’s Senior Symposium, visit