Ursinus Celebrates Student Achievement during CoSA

An annual rite of spring, hundreds of students shared their hard work—both inside and outside classroom—with the entire campus community April 18-19.

“This is a good opportunity for people across campus to see what is possible and what is being done here,” said Andrew Wieczenski ’18, whose research with Ellen Dawley, a professor of biology, explores spinal cord regeneration in amphibians.

The Celebration of Student Achievement kicked off with a staged reading of The Medusa Play, a piece that Angela Bey ’19 has been writing and editing under the guidance of Domenick Scudera, a professor of theater. The play mirrors elements of the classic Greek myth of Medusa while following a young actress and her friends as they try to make it in the world.

Some students shared their civic engagement projects in the Floy Lewis Bakes Center fieldhouse, discussing experiences with places like the Norristown Adult Learning School and Columbia Cottage, an assisted living facility.

Reflecting her volunteer work at Sebastian Riding Associates, which offers equine assisted therapy programs for children and adults living with disabilities, Noel McCampbell ’20 said, “The experience taught me a lot about what it means to be compassionate.”

Other student researchers delved into a project with the hope of understanding the nuances between people of the Ursinus community and trees on campus. By interviewing faculty, staff, students and alumni, they collected information from more than 100 participants who detailed the location of their favorite tree and the significance that they felt it brought to campus. The group created a heat map of the selected trees that showed how widespread the choices were. Some trees held memories of people or events, others were noted as beautiful, and many led the interviewees to feel a strong connection to Ursinus itself.

Another group shared its work on urban foraging, the act of finding usable plants within a city and harvesting them for personal use. Jenna Detweiler ’18 and Sarah Becker ’20 focused on 37 species and, through data and interviews, found that berry-producing brambles were the most frequently mentioned foraged products in Philadelphia despite not being mentioned in the Philadelphia inventory at all. They also researched how much and which part of the plant was used and for what purpose, whether it be for food, medicine, or crafting and spiritual reasons.

After exploring the work of Anna Deavere Smith’s documentary theater works that took existing documentary material and interviews and turned them into monologues, Blake Thompson ’18 asked, “What is the Ursinus experience?”  He explored the vastly different experiences of senior students across campus, particularly focusing on race and gender and how those factors shaped the way those students felt about campus life.

Charlotte Torres ’18 researched and analyzed works of female comedians spanning the past century in the hopes of gaining an understanding and appreciation of the history, contributions and innovations that led women in the industry. From Fanny Bryce, Mae West, Lucille Ball, and Moms Mabley, to Tig Notaro and Ellen DeGeneres, Torres captured a small snapshot of the wide world of women in comedy.

Ursinus’s senior Bonner leaders shared their emotional reflections on their volunteer experiences. Kate Bormann ’18 said her experiences allowed her to realize “how I carry myself and how the relationships I build are more important than anything.”

Rachael Carter ’18 said, “I consider so many people that I’ve worked with my family. They are my rock.” She noted that her Bonner experience taught her to “buy in, whenever you can. Speak up, stand up and look out.”

Some seniors also defended their honors thesis at CoSA, while the day’s events wrapped up with the opening of the student art exhibition in the Berman Museum and a special preview of the Ursinus College Dance Company’s spring performance. —By Mary Lobo ’15 and Ed Moorhouse