2020 CoSA Presentations are a Celebration of Student Adaptability

No one expected to be presenting their year-long research from a little box in the corner of a shared video screen, but the students participating in the annual Celebration of Student Achievement were not deterred.

Instead of projectors and podiums, students presented their projects from GoToMeeting video calls and podcasts.

Over the course of the week, approximately 80 student presentations, posters and performances were featured online for the Ursinus community to access through the Digital Commons. Many of the projects were made interactive and encouraged viewers to leave comments and feedback for the students to keep that element of the original CoSA design active.

This year, although presented in a different format, viewers could still find dozens of projects spanning different disciplines. From finance to dance, students, faculty and staff found a way to present it all.

Rebecca Schubach ’20 presented her research project titled “Shattering Glass Ceilings: Where are all the Women in Finance,” from a shared and recorded video call. As a woman planning to enter the financial industry in just a few short months, this topic resonated with Schubach.

“The industry itself has identified that there is a gender discrepancy in finance,” she explained, citing some of the many published studies on the topic.

During her presentation she raised the research question “Are you penalized for being a female in terms of annual compensation in the financial services industry?” Her presentation, along with several others in the finance course, can be found here.

The Ursinus theater capstone course shared a unique and timely performance in the form of their piece, “Isolated Together: Stories from the COVID-19 Pandemic; A Living Newspaper Radio Play.”

“Today’s program aims to represent differing experiences in accounts of this terrible pandemic, creating a time capsule of this moment for posterity,” said host and pandemic tour guide “Cap Stone,” played by Claire Hughes ’20. Throughout the program, a variety of colorful fictional characters, played by fellow capstone course members, shared their unique COVID-related thoughts.

The digital radio play can be listened to and experienced here.

A virtual PowerPoint presentation accompanied by detailed text and voiceover explanations was the form that the first Wismer on Wheels CoSA presentation took. The project, titled “Fighting waste and feeding people: Exploring the context of campus food waste and student recovery efforts,” took a deep look at the entire student run club, Wismer on Wheels.

“Wismer on Wheels is one of the few volunteer-based and entirely student-run clubs on campus. Our club is devoted entirely to recovering leftover food from the Wismer dining hall and delivering it to our partner organization, Manna on Main,” shared president of the club, Sarah Becker ’20.

The group diligently recovers leftover food from the Ursinus dining hall 12 times per week and then student volunteers travel with packed trunks full of food to Lansdale, Pa.

“We have had the great fortune to work with 35 amazing student volunteers this semester who make all of this possible,” Becker shared. “It takes a community to do this kind of work, and we couldn’t be more grateful for everything our volunteers do to foster that community.”

Since they began digitally recording their data in spring 2018, they have recovered over 11,000 pounds of leftover food and provided it to Manna on Main Street. This is roughly equivalent to the weight of an elephant.

The presentation went on to take a larger look at food waste in higher education as a whole and the dining hall system, as well as the greater picture of the United States food system, from agriculture to restaurant waste. They also touched on the other side of the spectrum and mentioned food insecurity with one in nine people in the United States struggling with hunger.

The presentation can be found here.

These three unique forms of CoSA presentations and performances are only a fraction of the innovative ways that students have begun to overcome the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to adapt to the sudden change mere weeks before their presentations, the Ursinus community put on an impressive week of student achievement. —By Mary Lobo ’15