Scripps College Capstone Day 2014: Celebrating Student Research

The 110 Scripps College seniors who presented their theses at “Capstone Day” explored a wide range of academic topics that included evolving racial and gender identities to shifting consumer preferences in music to molecular dynamics in DNA.    Capstone Day 2014 03

At this culminating event of their Scripps academic careers, the soon-to-be alumnae discussed their senior research theses, which provided them the opportunity to showcase their scholarship and to contribute to the College’s intellectual life.

Reflecting the diversity of student academic endeavors, graduating seniors presented their work in a variety of formats, including talks, poster sessions, short films, art exhibitions, and performances. Despite the diversity of presentations, all students were given only a few minutes to discuss an academic topic that they had dedicated a year’s worth of research mastering.

Vivian Delchamps ’14, of Birmingham, Ala., characterized the experience of condensing the findings of her senior thesis into a few minutes as both “flattering and challenging.”

“I had so much to say about my research topic. I had so much research to share with professors and classmates,” said Delchamps, an English major who presented her senior thesis titled “‘Of the Woman First of All’: Walt Whitman and Women’s Literary History” to a roomful of students and faculty. “This was inspiring.”

In the moments leading up to her presentation, Daysha Edewi ’14 said she had practiced and timed herself in anticipation of Capstone Day. Edewi, a media studies major from Cambridge, Mass., streamed a few minutes of her research project, a documentary titled “My Schizophrenic Existence: Examining Blackness in Personal and Academic Spaces.”

“This is surreal,” Edewi said. “I’ve literally been working on this project for an entire year and, as a filmmaker, you never feel your project is done.”

Since 2009, the Scripps community gathers together yearly on Capstone Day – which this year fell on May 7 – to celebrate the academic accomplishments of the senior class by highlighting the best senior theses from a range of disciplines. The day-long event also fosters interdisciplinary collaboration among students and faculty.

After delving into a particular topic for the past year and working closely with a professor, students enjoy the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience, though many said the time constraint was a challenge.

“It was tough,” said Maddie Ripley ’14, an economics major from Wellesley, Mass. “This is a great opportunity and being able to condense so much information on a topic that you feel passionate about is an important skill. It’s a challenge – but a good challenge. These presentations are as instructive as writing a 50-page paper on a topic. You’re condensing information and summarizing the relevant points, which is a good skill to use in any discipline.”

Capstone Day activities were open to students, faculty, staff, family, alumnae, and friends of Scripps College. A tea immediately followed the student presentations in the Margaret Fowler Garden. A student versus faculty/staff soccer game capped off the day’s events at 5 p.m. at Tiernan Field on Mills Avenue.