Having the opportunity to gain real life experience is beneficial for any college student. However, being able to gain those experiences and never leave campus is a whole new story.
On Friday, March 23, the Department of English held the 3rd annual English Symposium. The symposium featured students who presented their original research and creative work. Students presented on a wide variety of topics, from dualism to examination of Jane Austen’s works. The papers were arranged in panels with similar themes. Friday was dedicated to student presentations and closed with a keynote speaker, Trenton Hickman.
Before the event, students had the opportunity to work with professors to perfect their papers. Students were able to receive help and ask questions to help them prepare to present their work.
“They share their work for an audience, take questions from the audience and get a little professionalizing experience,” said assistant professor of English Paul Westover. “That’s something professionals in our field do all the time. It’s one of the ways we share work.”
According to Westover, the symposium allows students to receive one-on-one mentoring with the professors who can help them prepare for future work and schooling. He also said it provides opportunities to rub shoulders with other talented students as well.
This year’s theme, “Crossing Genres, Connecting Centuries,” allowed students with different research backgrounds to participate. Every year, the number of students participating in the conference has grown. More than 120 students presented this year.
Shannon Williams, a senior from Las Vegas studying English, presented and helped put on the event. She said she was excited to share her hard work and ideas with an audience.
“As an English major, it’s sometimes hard for people to understand what you do and that it actually matters and [that you] do put a lot of work into your degree,” Williams said. “I’m looking forward to showing people … that I’m really passionate about it.”
Another important aspect of the symposium were conversations people were able to have after listening to different presentations. It is designed in hopes of getting people to think more deeply about certain things.
“To enter into a professional conversation is why we are here at the university,” said Sirpa Grierson, associate professor of English and adviser of the English Society. “It’s not just about getting grades and doing these aimless assignments. They should have a purpose and I think students see that.”
The symposium concluded with a keynote speaker, professor of English Trenton Hickman, who discussed the importance of humanities. He was chosen by a panel of students in the English Society. His address, “Serendipity,” focused on how students should make the most of their experiences, take what life hands them and capitalize on those experiences.
“In the end you’re humble, but you’re your own best advocate,” Hickman said. “Let serendipity have its way.”