Newman University caps off each semester with Scholars Day — an opportunity for upperclassmen to present original research and capstone projects in the form of presentations and posters.
On Monday, Dec. 6, several students presented the culmination of their studies and honed their communication skills by sharing research findings with fellow students, staff and faculty of Newman.
Topics ranged from “Best Practices of Data Visualization” and “Balance the Books” in education to nursing students’ work on “Benefits of Delayed Bathing of Newborns” and “E-Cigarettes/ Vape Use in Adolescents.”
Adding to the academic toolbelt
Senior nursing students Ivan Balavage, Marlie Wagner and Andrew Stevenson presented their findings on the topic of “Open vs. Closed Suctioning and Infection Control in Intubated Patients.”
“My brother was intubated so this was a topic that was pertinent to me,” Wagner explained. “I saw a lot of what my brother’s care looked like, and so learning that there were differences and maybe there was a better way to do it was something that was important to me.”
Balavage, who hopes to work in an intensive care unit after graduation, plans to take what he has learned from the group’s research and apply it to serving his future patients, as do Wagner and Stevenson.
“I think two of the most important things nurses can do for their patients is an advocate for the patient and maintain the sterility of our work,” Stevenson said. “For our future patients down the road, we now have the ability to explore best practices which is something I found was really important from this project.”
Carrying over into the career
Senior biology major Mattie Schindler shared a semester’s worth of work with her research project, “Full Skeleton Analysis.” With the assistance of associate professor of biology Susan Orsbon, Schindler analyzed the skeletal remains of a 15-year-old male from more than 100 years ago.
“I did forensic anthropology and how your bones tell your life story,” Schindler said. “Even now, a hundred years later, we can still learn from bones and find out who they were.”
Schindler plans to earn her master’s degree and eventually work as a physician assistant. She believes the research and skills she presented at Scholars Day “will definitely come in handy.”
“Doing research projects like this, you definitely have to push yourself a little bit outside of your comfort zone,” she said. “For me, being a science major in anatomy and physiology, I will need to learn how to connect people to the science part of my research in a way that gets the most impact from how I’m explaining it. I think all those lessons will definitely carry over into my future career.”
A Newman-wide support system
Wendy Sahatjian, associate professor of marketing and management, has served as a Scholars Day assessor for several of the 20 years she has worked at Newman University.
“We are all aware that there are so many good things happening on our campus, that people are working in nursing and education and biology, but sometimes we just get focused on what we are doing,” Sahatjian said. “It’s so nice to interact with everyone, to be able to engage and to remind ourselves of all the good things that are happening here during Scholars Day.”
In addition to the work students poured into their posters and presentations, multiple staff members stepped up to the plate and served as student assessors. Each assessor helped judge the student’s presentation based on categories such as content, quality of speech and accuracy of data.
Staff member Rachel Lang is the administrative assistant for the Division of Arts and Humanities. She spends the bulk of her workdays in her office on the third floor of McNeill Hall so serving as an assessor during Scholars Day was an exciting change of pace, she said.
“I usually don’t see very many students besides my couple of student workers, so it’s been awesome actually getting to interact with the students,” Lang said. “I helped Wendy (Sahatjian) with the Scholars Day schedule throughout this whole process, but today I also got to be an assessor. These students are so smart and I just love hearing and learning from them.”
Ready for takeoff
Sahatjian believes that in order to transform society, “there has to be a shift and a transformation within you as a person.”
“So you come in as a student learner, but by the time that you leave you should be ready to contribute to your discipline,” Sahatjian said. “I think that Scholars Day gives students some insight into ‘I do have the ability to make a difference.’”
She added, “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, it’s going to take time before I have enough expertise.’ I think that Scholars Day gives them a chance to say ‘Oh, no, I can contribute. I am ready. And here’s my first piece of really amazing research-based work to prove it.”