STEM fields lead in growing G.R.E.A.T. Day participation

Held on Tuesday April 21, Geneseo’s ninth annual Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day was host to over 400 student presentations. These presentations took place all day and included oral presentation, posters, a keynote speaker, performances and more.

“It’s a celebration of the campus,” G.R.E.A.T. Day coordinator Patty Hamilton-Rodgers. “It’s an incredible opportunity for our students to share what they’ve done with each other and with the faculty and staff. It’s Geneseo, it’s what we do.”

G.R.E.A.T. Day allows students the opportunity to share their own and learn about their other students’ work. The day included art exhibits, student poster presentations, chamber music performances, keynote speaker James Campbell and the Insomnia Film Festival.

The day began with two presentation sessions, followed by the G.R.E.A.T. Day poster session in the College Union Ballroom, Campbell’s presentation and then more presentation sessions. Senior Jaclyn Waxon gave a poster presentation on gender differences and bystander effects to party rape situations.

“It’s important for the safety of women who are victims of party rape everywhere, not just at Geneseo,” she said. “It’s a growing problem … and that’s wrong and it has to stop.” Waxon also presented at the Regional Campus Feminist Forum at St. John Fisher College on April 11.

History major junior Layna Gray created a poster that examined the historical consequences of the one-child policy on women in China.

“I think what people misunderstand about history is that it’s a series of facts and dates and numbers. What people don’t recognize is that history is very interpretive,” Gray said. “You can look at the same information and have something new come up that changes our perception of the entire world as we know it.”

Hamilton-Rodgers said that this year saw 50 more poster submissions than last year, and an increase in session presentations—from approximately 230 presentations to 240. In total, 914 students presented this year, a notable increase from last year’s 881 students.

“The numbers, we kind of go up and down,” she said. “Our numbers were down a little bit last year, but we had lost those three programs. So last year was a blip but we’re right back up ... It’s not always the numbers, it’s the quality of the program. I think we reached a culture that people approach a project with a plan for G.R.E.A.T. Day.”

GREAT Day infographic

GREAT Day infographic

The Lamron broke the presentations down into five major categories, including STEM works: biology, chemistry, geography, geology, mathematics, physics and astronomy; social sciences: anthropology, communication, international relations, political science, psychology and sociology; humanities: history, English, languages, women studies, performing arts and philosophy; education; business and other: Residence Life, Greek life, Study Abroad, Milne Library, Access Opportunity Program, Center for Inquiry, Discovery and Development, Center for Community and Computer Information Technology.

Of the total projects, 194 were STEM-based, 119 humanities-based, 91 were grounded in social sciences, 23 in education, 17 in other and 13 business-based.

Hamilton-Rodgers explained that she feels these projects represent many aspects of the campus.

“G.R.E.A.T. Day is all-encompassing,” Hamilton-Rodgers said. “I can’t sit here and say, ‘This presentation is worthy and this one is not.’ I don’t think there’s anybody on this campus that can do that, so we try to be all encompassing.”

Some students, however, don’t share this view.

“I think if Geneseo were to invest in it [non-STEM fields] more, it would grow stronger and we would be able to do more,” psychology major senior Kathleen Gorman. “I think it should be more equal.”

“It’s pretty clear that the arts and non-STEMs are being pushed out at Geneseo, especially with the closing of the art department,” education major junior Bridget Thompson. “Geneseo started as a school for teachers, so it’s kind of disheartening to see it being pushed to the side. But it’s also really cool that there are so many brilliant science and math students. I would just like to see a more equal balance.”

Although some weren’t happy with what they described as unbalanced representation, many were pleased with the event as a whole.

“This keynote speaker [James Campbell] was from Stanford and he said as he stated, ‘I’ve been watching and I’m gonna steal these ideas and take them back to my college.’ To think that Geneseo might be setting a standard for Stanford, that tells you what a great program this is,” Hamilton-Rodgers said.

President-elect Denise Battles––who attended G.R.E.A.T. Day––also spoke and expressed appreciation for the faculty and students who participated in G.R.E.A.T. Day, encouraging those involved to give themselves a round of applause. “This day has surpassed my expectations,” she said.

The G.R.E.A.T. Day Coordinator for five years, Hamilton-Rodgers noted that she is proud of the strides she’s seen.

“I’m delighted that it’s become part of the culture because I think that’s what has made it thrive,” she said.

Sports editor Taylor Frank, copy editor Megan Tomaszewski and arts and entertainment editor Justine Talbot contributed reporting to this article.