By Ava Burchell, Staff Writer
The Celebration of Academic First-Year Engagement (CAFE) Symposium took place on Feb. 7 from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The event took place in the CUB Ballroom and was filled with first-year student presentations about the various projects they completed in their first-year seminars. Students described their projects to staff, faculty and students from across campus. Additionally, coffee and finger foods were offered to first-years and guests alike.
The CAFE organizing committee consisted of Director of Research & Instruction Meggan Smith; Research, Instruction and First-Year Engagement Librarian Eyoel Delessa; Scholarly Communications Librarian Mary Elmquist; Library Administrative Assistant Edith Pigeon and Research, Instruction and Student Success Librarian Hannah Krauss.
Krauss explained that presentations for this year’s CAFE Symposium went beyond poster boards.
“One student displayed items she created in Shop Class as Soulcraft, including a hammer, chisel, and a box she created using those tools, and another student in the Oh! The (Digital) Humanities walked attendees through a website she created for her research,” Krauss shared. “We are happy that CAFE can give students the opportunity to present their work, even if it doesn’t fit in the traditional poster format.”
Projects were presented on various topics like the origin of Gettysburg College’s Family Weekend (Kyle Shaffer ’27), how to educate Gettysburg visitors about lantern flies (Brandon Fey ’27) and what would happen if “The Matrix” occurred today (Eliana Mandelberg ’27).
Salvatore Medori ’27 presented about the relationship between the environment and mental health which he researched in his first-year seminar “The Way Forward on Climate Change” with Environmental Studies Lecturer William Lane.
“Basically, the worse climate change gets, the worse the mental health crisis again,” explained Medori. “You not only have extreme weather events like tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding and the psychological trauma of actually living through events. All these events are also being beamed right to our television, our phones and to our pockets all the time.”
Calef Joing ’27 presented a project on Gettysburg College’s participation in the Battle of Gettysburg. He explained Penn Hall’s role as a hospital, students’ participation in the battle and the lasting impacts on students today.
“The biggest challenge was trying to find primary resources and reliable information because there isn’t a lot of surviving information from the battle. There are some accounts here and there but I really had to piece together sparse information to figure this out,” said Joing.
First-years also had the opportunity to learn about projects from peers in other first-year seminars.
“I feel like everyone here deserves to be here and everything they’ve done is quite good,” said Shaffer.
Krauss reflected on the outcome of the CAFE Symposium and the work that the first-year students completed.
“It was wonderful to watch the students present on their research that they had worked so hard on, and to see how excited they were talking about it! Faculty, staff, parents, students, and even past participants attended the event,” Krauss said. “It was a lovely, high-energy event celebrating the academic achievement of some of our first year students.”
Work from the students can be found in a digital format here.
Editor-in-Chief Laken Franchetti contributed to this article.