19 December 2023 First-Year Seminar Symposium

Students cap their first semester at HWS with the First-Year Seminar Symposium.

At the First-Year Seminar Symposium held at the end of the semester, students had the opportunity to showcase their academic growth at HWS through poster presentations and interactive presentations.

The event was held in the Vandervort Room and was widely attended by the HWS community.

In “The Reality Effect (It Was Not a Dark and Stormy Night)” with Associate Director for Faculty Enrichment Susan Hess, students studied the craft, method and impact of stories. Before the symposium, students practiced their storytelling with their classmates and their student mentors Jack Deely '26 and Rachel Mahoney '24. 

In many First-Year Seminars, student mentors including First-Year Mentors and Writing Colleagues are embedded in the classroom to help students successfully transition to college and improve their writing. 

At the symposium, students told a story then asked the audience to guess whether it was true or false. Following the exercise, they broke down the rhetorical cues that led to a specific conclusion.

First-Year Seminar Symposium

Dean Aquilina ’27 says he found a new interest in writing and rhetorical analysis through his FSEM and is now considering majoring in the subject.

Students in “Miracle Drugs” with Professor of Chemistry Erin Pelkey studied the lifecycle of several drugs, from invention and copyright to trials and market.

Isabella Daniels '27, a student in Pelkey's class, says the course helped her transition from high school to college academics. “We studied all aspects of a debate, such as pro and anti-pharma, or the benefits and weaknesses of the Inflation Reduction Act and had to come to our own conclusions. So, I really had the opportunity to ask myself, “What do I believe in?”

Students in “Relationships, Happiness and Service” with Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Katie Flowers analyzed the impact of volunteerism and civic engagement on individual happiness.

“This class really gave me a foundation for finding what makes me happy and introduced me to a lot of people in Geneva,” says Grace Magna ’27. For the service-learning component of the course, Magna volunteered at Geneva Lakefront Childcare Center and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

Students in “Interrogating Race: South Africa’s Apartheid and U.S. Segregation” with Visiting Associate Professor of Africana Studies James McCorkle collaborated to produce a zine on home, belonging and shelter. Students distributed copies at the Symposium.

For “Building Bridges: Immigration & Oral History” with Sebastiano Lucci, the director of the Less Commonly Taught Languages Program and Instructor of Italian,students interviewed members of the Italian-American community in Geneva, N.Y. and shared snippets of their interviews. 

“I learned so much about conducting interviews,” Ainsley Innus ’27 says. “You can prepare questions but you truly have to let the interviewee take you where they want to go, and just continue to be curious and adapt.”

Learn more about First-Year Seminars here.

In the photo above, students in "Writing & Resistance" gather for a photo with Director of the Writing Colleagues Program Amy Green.