Seniors depart from WC with final capstone presentations

Maegan White

Elm Staff Writer

Every spring, most graduating seniors present their Senior Capstone Experiences to the students, faculty, and staff of Washington College through their thesis event. Some departments host poster presentations while other departments host round tables and individual presentations.

Seniors spend all year researching their topics, writing their theses, and preparing to present at the end of the year. The months of April and May mark peak SCE presentation season. On the week of April 24, 13 departments had their presentations including Environmental Science and Studies, Physics, Communications and Media Studies, and Psychology. 

Senior Armani Banks completed a joint SCE with the Departments of Sociology and Political Science respectfully. Her thesis topic was on evangelical attitudes towards LGBTQ+ rights.

“Historically, evangelicals have had very negative attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community and their rights, but research shows that there is beginning to be a positive shift in their attitudes,” Banks said. Her SCE explored potential strategies for politicians to secure both of those groups’ voting blocs.

Senior Paleena Amy is another double major and completed her SCE with the Departments of Physics and Environmental Science respectively. She did an experimental design SCE on enhanced silicate weathering, a set of theoretical proposals which aim to negate carbon emissions through the natural process of chemical weathering.

Amy said she was most proud of the fact that her SCE topic gives visibility to an important mitigation tactic to fight climate change. 

“When I talk about my thesis and people realize that it could be a feasible way to work against climate change, a little bit more hope about the future of our Earth is instilled in their minds and in mine as well,” Amy said. 

The Department of Communications and Media Studies does an annual round table for all their seniors to present their research. Senior Randei Collins’ SCE was titled “The Realest: A Comparison of Self-brand Authenticity on Social Media Between Independent and Major Label Articles Featuring Lizzo.”

Collins said that the most enjoyable part of her SCE was being able to explore a unique topic that is not ordinarily covered. 

“I got to research about something that I am passionate about and in my mind, I am helping people become more informed and aware of the ins and outs of social media and the people [and] celebrities who interact on the platforms,” Collins said. “You can never really tell if the person you support is genuine or not, especially behind a screen, so why not have a more detailed mindset of looking for the signs.”

Senior Kate Ruppert is a double major in biochemistry and molecular biology and Hispanic studies, and wrote two separate SCEs for each department. Her biochemistry and molecular biology topic was a literature review titled “Development and Therapeutic Applications of CRISPR-based Base Editing Technology.” 

For her Hispanic studies SCE, she gave a presentation on student strikes at the University of Puerto Rico and the impact of students’ voices and protests. 

Ruppert said that throughout her SCEs, she gained a lot of insight outside of what she wrote academically. 

“While learning about my topics has been so rewarding, I’ve learned about myself as a student and a researcher as well, and I think that is more valuable than any paper I could write,” Ruppert said. “I’m so proud of both of my theses and have valued every part of the experience.”

Banks shared some departing wisdom for future seniors who will be writing their SCE in the next few years. 

“To all future seniors, when completing your SCE always remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel even when you cannot see it,” Banks said.

Photo courtesy of Washington College

Photo Caption: SCE presentations occur in various building across campus like the John S. Toll Science Center Atrium and Underwood Lobby.

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