By Vee Sharp
Washington College’s class of 2026 was given the opportunity to show off their academic efforts in the first annual First-Year Seminar Student Research fair on Friday, Nov. 18.
Located in the Toll Atrium in John S. Toll Science Center and running from 3 to 5 p.m., the event was a dedicated space for freshman students to present the projects that they worked on during their FYS classes. The formats of these presentations ranged from informative poster boards, to artworks, to lightning talks which took place in Litrenta Lecture Hall.
According to Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies and Director of the FYS Program Dr. Martín Ponti, this is the first event at WC that he knew of that is actively dedicated to showcasing an array of first-year presentations.
“I wanted to find a way for [freshman] students to share their work,” Dr. Ponti said. “How many ideas do we get along the way to presenting?”
According to Dr. Ponti, this was the first experience for many freshmen in sharing their work. The hope of the endeavor was that students might gain insight into one another’s research.
All students enrolled in FYS classes were invited to take part in the event. The classes present were becoming you, introduction to LGBTQ+ psychology, language is limitless, nations and animations, rivers and the American mind, the end of the world, and who succeeds in college.
Most students presented their midterm research projects. The introduction to LGBTQ+ psychology FYS, for example, used minority stress theory and the concept of resilience to analyze different LGBTQ+ fictional characters.
Freshman Nyss Fairchild, for instance, analyzed Camina Drummer from the show “The Expanse.”
According to Fairchild, minority stress theory is the additional mental health stress from being a minority. Like her peers, Fairchild focused on resilience, or how a person copes both internally and with a support network.
Though many classes created display boards for their projects, the rivers and the American mind FYS wrote poetry and made collages to show what they learned.
Freshmen Lauren Albert and Jamira Hutt-Robles displayed their pieces side by side. Albert focused on the natural concept of the river, and Hutt-Robles focused on the working side of rivers and their connection to people’s livelihoods.
At 4 p.m., students from the nations and animations FYS presented their midterm papers through lightning talks, which were moderated by Associate Professor of Spanish and Director of Black Studies Dr. Elena Deanda-Camacho.
Each student’s project addressed a different animated film. Freshman Chelsea Elliot, for example, read her paper titled “Resilience, Economic Struggles, and Family Support in ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie.’”
Drawing partially from personal experience, Elliot focused on the dynamic between the family members and the struggles of running a small business.
“[The movie] highlights the struggles of a family-owned business and what they need to be successful,” she said.
Other movies discussed included “Soul,” “Isle of Dogs,” and “South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut.” Each analysis took a different lens, all pertaining to wider culture in some way.
Though the event was designed for freshman students, there was also an underlying hope for upperclassmen to learn from their younger peers’ work.
“It’s about engaging in a conversation. Maybe a younger student could trigger something you haven’t thought of,” Dr. Ponti said.
Photo by Vee Sharp
Photo Caption: Freshmen gathered to share and present the research conducted in their fall FYS courses.