GREAT Day honors excellence across vast disciplines

Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day spotlighted the academic and artistic pursuits of students, who have spent the semester, or longer, preparing their presentations. 

Students had the opportunity to present their research on GREAT Day through Concurrent Presentations and Poster Sessions. 

One Concurrent Presentation that exhibited students’ talents was titled “Visual Communication Personal Brand Project.” Students from COMN 356: Contemporary Visual Communication spoke about their personal brand projects. This presentation was chaired by communication major sophomore Erik Buckingham alongside assistant professor of communication Lee Pierce as the faculty sponsor. 

“The goal of this assignment was for students to translate their own complexities—meaning, their contradictions, values, aspirations and commitments—into a single word-image that visually communicates themselves to the world,” Buckingham said. 

 Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day took place on Tuesday April 17 throughout campus. Participants included psychology major senior Suchetha Wakwella, who presented her research poster on egocentrism and violent media in the MacVittie College Union ballroom (pictured top) and business administration major junior Kitrick McCoy, who presented his research on disabilities (pictured Second). Additionally, history major junior Shelby Schmigel partook in Winterguard (pictured third) and education major senior Scott Cassidy with history and geography double major junior Benjamin Geiger participating in their performance of children’s literature as theater (pictured bottom, from left to right respectively). (Annalee Bainnson/photo editor)

Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement and Talent Day took place on Tuesday April 17 throughout campus. Participants included psychology major senior Suchetha Wakwella, who presented her research poster on egocentrism and violent media in the MacVittie College Union ballroom (pictured top) and business administration major junior Kitrick McCoy, who presented his research on disabilities (pictured Second). Additionally, history major junior Shelby Schmigel partook in Winterguard (pictured third) and education major senior Scott Cassidy with history and geography double major junior Benjamin Geiger participating in their performance of children’s literature as theater (pictured bottom, from left to right respectively). (Annalee Bainnson/photo editor)

The students who presented included communication major senior Tyler White, communication major senior Jared Calderon, musical theater and communication double major senior Sophie Yeomans and communication and international relations double major junior Cesar Nunez. Each student had a distinct personal brand that dealt with themes such as the origins of their creativity, the juxtaposition of two passions and the different characters they assume in their daily lives. 

Some students, like Nunez and Calderon, have or plan to use this project to market themselves to employers. Others see this project as a tool for self-reflection. 

“I think for me it’s less of using the end product as a career focus, and rather the exploration of self-process,” Yeomans said. “Where is the boundary between a character and yourself, and I think then if I take that lesson and apply that to other classes and other things that I’m doing, then it’s interesting to think about where I relate to this song and where I relate to this character,” Yeomans spoke of her interest in theater.

Pierce created this assignment and sponsored this panel in order to encourage students to be able to communicate their intended messages through all types of media. 

“The more options students have to not only present themselves as images, but also speeches, is really important, in addition to in writing,” Pierce said.

The research students displayed during Poster Sessions was equally engaging. 

One project, “Seasonal Variation in Red Fox Activity,” was conducted in Geneseo’s own arboretum. Biology major sophomore Alanna Richman and pre-biology major freshman Chloe Cottone completed this research project under the guidance of associate professor of biology Jennifer Apple, who acted as a faculty mentor. 

During the spring 2017 semester, baby foxes were found in the arboretum in one of Apple’s ecology classes, according to Richman. Richman and Cottone began to study these foxes from video recordings of the foxes’ den activity.

“We wanted to look at how many foxes were in the arboretum and ... the variation in activity over the season,” Richman said. 

There are at least two foxes in this area now, according to Richman. Richman added that the male fox often brings food to the female fox, who stays in the den. This may indicate that the female fox is pregnant, or that the male fox is bringing food back for kits. 

Richman and Cottone also recorded other species present in the den and their frequency. In the future, Richman said they would like to continue to examine the animal activity in the arboretum, as well as how the foxes interact with different specifies—specifically possums. 

“We’ve noticed that possums and foxes are active at the same time. They’ll even be in pictures together and the possums will enter the den sometimes,” Richman said. 

This is Richman’s first time presenting at GREAT Day, and she has thoroughly enjoyed the process.

“Making a poster was a lot of hard work, but it’s really fun. This made me realize I’m really into research and it’s a good experience,” Richman said.

Beyond student displays, Geneseo also invited an outside keynote speaker to the festivities. 

This year’s GREAT Day speaker was James MacGregor Burns lecturer in public leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School Barbara Kellerman.

Kellerman has been a lecturer at many universities, spoken to audiences all over the world and authored and edited multiple books. Kellerman’s current area of interest is leadership, which was the focus of her keynote address. 

Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development program director and associate dean for leadership and service Tom Matthews introduced Kellerman.

“When the call went out for nominations for a keynote speaker for GREAT Day, I could think of no one better than Dr. Barbara Kellerman,” Matthews said. “She is a distinguished scholar, with 19 thought-provoking books that help us understand why we need to question and challenge what leaders do, how they do it and why some do it wrong.” 

Kellerman’s speech began with self-introductions, followed by her reading a poem by Bertolt Brecht. During a majority of her speech, Kellerman discussed leadership in today’s world as well as ‘how to make a leader’—which was the title of the talk. 

Kellerman commented that leadership should be treated as a profession and should require adequate training, as opposed to being thought of as an occupation that anyone can do. 

“What should good leadership education consist of? Number one, it should introduce leadership learners to great ideas,” Kellerman said. “Second, a good leader should introduce leadership learners to great research. Third, it should introduce leadership learners to great art.”

Kellerman also emphasized that followership is just as important in a leadership position or relationship as the leader themselves. We all play an essential part in the success or failure of a leader, according to Kellerman. 

Additionally, Kellerman commended Geneseo for the GOLD program, which helps students cultivate leadership skills. 

If you missed the Keynote speech on GREAT Day or just want to learn more about Kellerman’s view on leadership, her newest book Professionalizing Leadership was just released. 

Geneseo GREAT Day also acted as a celebration of the arts on-campus. 

In the Kinetic Gallery in the MacVittie College Union, the “GREAT Battle of the Artists” gave students the opportunity to view art in multiple mediums created by their peers. This display featured paintings, photography, drawings and several other types of art. Winners of the “GREAT Battle of the Artists” were announced at the end of the day on Tuesday April 17. Business administration major senior Julia Tannenbaum won the judges’ choice award for her piece “Bridge of Wonder” and sociology major senior Leah Chin won the people’s choice award for “Geography of Self Part One and Two.”

Across campus in Doty Recital Hall, campus music groups performed in the GREAT Day Music Festival. The Music Festival, coordinated by communication major junior Sean Ryan, featured groups such as string band, flute choir and all of the a cappella groups. 

At the end of the evening, the Wadsworth Auditorium held the Insomnia Film Festival. Insomnia allowed for students to create videos and compete against other students. The films were judged based on impact, cinematic value, story and in their total quality. Winners were announced at the end of the festival. Third place was a tie between teams Newton’s Knights and Sam & Fred. Second place was awarded to The Schuyler Sisters team. Lastly, first place was awarded to team Panda Productions. 

These events show that Geneseo students are just as artistically focused as they are academically oriented and allowed for the campus community to view the tremendous talent of the student body.