2012 Symposium Spotlights Oglethorpe Students’ Academic Accomplishments

On Tuesday, the OU community gathered  for the 2012 Liberal Arts and Sciences Symposium to celebrate the academic achievements of our students. The annual event provides OU students with a platform to present their own work—and fellow students, faculty, parents, and staff take the opportunity to learn more about the various topics, support the presenters, and engage in passionate discussions. Nearly 200 students presented during more than 30 sessions about topics drawn from a wide variety of disciplines.

We asked students Joscelyn Stein, Dayana Diaz, and Weston Manders to give us their thoughts about the Symposium:

This year’s topics ranged from “The Homeric Hero: What Winston Churchill and Odysseus have in common…or not” to “Mosquito in the Room: America’s Cuban Obsession and the Need for a New Era of Cuban-American Relations,” to “The Evolution of Fairies in Literature: From Oral Folk Tales to Peter Pan” and “The Benefits of Cooperative Interspecies Evolution: Why Would you have a Dog?”

A new addition to the day-long event was StoryCore, where students from the OU radio station video recorded students and faculty sharing “OUr Core moments,” reflections on the Core Curriculum. Oglethorpe’s Core Program helps shape our academic community and is regularly the focus of shared stories. Many of us have our “Core moments”—when something we encounter reminds us of something we learned in a Core course, when ideas are suddenly are connected. The collection of 90-second videos will be posted on the StoryCore page over the next few weeks. Here’s the first StoryCore video in the series, by Chelsea Reed ’13, a Communications and Rhetoric major.

Also new to the Symposium this year was an “Homage To OUr CORE in Poetry and Creative Verse.” The poetry slam/creative word jam took place in the Lupton Auditorium and gave a stage to students and faculty to share their poetry, spoken word and freestyle compositions, penned in honor of our Core Curriculum. The friendly competition chose winners in a few categories:

Judges’ Choice: Kaci Palmore
Most Creative: Chou Thao
Connection to Core: Will Carter

The day-long celebration of student achievements ended in the Conant Performing Arts Center with the annual Honors and Awards Convocation, which recognized individuals who had excelled during the academic year. Congratulations to all of the honorees!

View photos from the 2012 Liberal Arts & Sciences Symposium!

OU Student Government President Explores American-Israeli Relations at D.C. Meeting

Joscelyn meets a fellow student government president.

In early March I had the honor of being invited to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s Policy Conference 2012.  The Policy Conference is held each year to educate men and women from around the country about the importance of a strong Israeli-American relationship.  The conference is three days of big speeches, breakout sessions, and opportunities to lobby one’s representatives to ensure that a strong Israeli-American relationship is one of America’s continuing priorities. 

Every year, AIPAC brings out hundreds of student delegates to attend the Policy Conferences.  This year, I was one of 217 student government association presidents invited to spend the weekend in Washington D.C. learning about AIPAC’s mission and all of the ways in which I—as a student, as a member of a community, and as one of the youths that is going to propel our country forward—can make a difference

The theme of this year’s Policy Conference was “Shared Values, Shared Vision” and the majority of the speakers used this theme to highlight all of the ways in which Israelis and Americans have continually worked together to ensure the safety, health and vitality of our nations.  We heard tons of stories about how Israel and America have worked together in the past, and we heard pleas for this continued relationship to stand strong against Iran, making sure that Iran is unable to make a nuclear weapon. 

That was the big picture AIPAC experience: major speakers, heartfelt stories and calls to action.  In the smaller picture though, I had some amazing experiences:

  • I got to hear President Obama, Israeli President Peres, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and countless other politicians speak.  All of them took the stage and their first remarks all made a point about how many students, especially SGA presidents, were in the room.
  • I sat in a breakout session about Arab Spring and got to see what I’ve learned in Core in action.  The speakers were discussing “being on this side of history,” and I was able to see what they were saying in the context of what I’ve learned in Core. 
  • I got to meet 216 other SGA presidents and spent the weekend learning from them.  We shared stories of our experiences with each other, and gave each other advice for how to make changes on our campuses.
  • I spent a beautiful spring weekend in Washington D.C. and was able to squeeze in a little bit of amazing sightseeing.  My favorite part, outside the conference, was going to the Newseum.  As a media studies major I walked through a museum dedicated to chronicling the changes to the news media since its inception.  It was like walking through a textbook, in all of the best ways imaginable.

As I was leaving D.C., I thought about everything I’d done and learned over the weekend.  I had definitely figured out what AIPAC wanted me to walk away with from the experience.  I’d learned about the importance of staying informed, making sure that I used my voice, and staying involved.  As cliché as it sounds, I walked away with a renewed understanding of how I can make a difference.  And whether or not I choose to use my abilities for furthering American-Israeli relations—or for making sure other students have the same Oglethorpe experience I love—as long as I am fighting for something I’m passionate about, I’m doing everything in my power to make a difference.  And that is what is truly important.