Although the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted some of the ways in which our students learn—both inside and outside the classroom—one of the hallmarks of their Ursinus experience continues to flourish: undergraduate research.
On April 22, 2021, the hard work of our students will proudly be put on display as Ursinus hosts its 16th annual Celebration of Student Achievement (CoSA). Traditionally, we open our campus to visitors on CoSA, but while we cannot invite our alumni back to Collegeville this year, the event will still offer a way for our “Bears for Life” to remain connected with our students and learn more about their research and scholarship. In fact, our virtual platform will make it easier than ever before to see what our current Bears are doing!
Michael Chiarappa ’81 is, a professor of history at Quinnipiac University and member of Ursinus’s Alumni Council, has been following the work of our students for years, both as a fellow academic and an alumnus. As someone who has engaged with both CoSA and our Summer Fellows program, he sees value in these experiences for our alumni community.
“It is intellectually enriching to participate in this process,” says Chiarappa. “Having attended the student research programs at Ursinus, I was struck not only by the substance and sophistication of various student projects, but, perhaps more importantly, was impressed by how each student’s work cultivated a confident, authoritative voice and scholarly ethic that will serve them well in any number of challenges they will confront in life.”
For students presenting at CoSA, their work has often spanned a year or longer. Some have carried research or artistic pursuits through from their first- through senior years, showcasing the drive and curiosity of Ursinus students, as well as the unique blend of the liberal arts and experiential learning that the college offers.
What our “virtual” visitors will see on display at CoSA is quite impressive. Many of these projects tie into honors thesis work or are completed side-by-side with faculty experts. They lead to personal and intellectual growth that translates to better outcomes for students. In some instances, our young alumni carry forward the pursuits they begin at Ursinus to graduate study or even their professional careers.
“Student research at Ursinus is vital in preparing students for advanced degrees,” says Chiarappa. “This speaks more universally to the benefits of a liberal arts education—it reinforces a level of inquiry, creativity, self-reflection, and collective accountability.”
It’s an education that serves our alumni for life, and that’s another reason why all our Bears—past and present—should get involved with this year’s virtual CoSA.
“Ursinus should be more than a four-year experience in a student’s life, but a commitment to a lifelong community affiliation,” says Chiarappa. “CoSA is a way for all members of the Ursinus community to continually contribute to the college’s educational mission and be inspired by it.”
The 2021 virtual CoSA will be available on and after April 22 and can be accessed through the program’s website. We encourage alumni and friends to explore our students’ work as well as share comments and ask questions through our Digital Commons platform.