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School of Education hosts first student research symposium

  • Research symposium
    Research symposium  The School of Education hosted its first student research symposium on Friday. Here, two students -- Austin Pryor (left) and Tim Pagano -- present their research on barriers to career development among Native American youth.  Photo by Erin Zagursky
  • Encouraging words
    Encouraging words  Kate Slevin, vice provost for academic affairs, presents the keynote address at the symposium, offering bits of wisdom from her own experience and encouraging students to enjoy the research process.  Photo by Erin Zagursky
  • Research at work
    Research at work  Ruth Lowe gives a presentation on, "Surviving Middle School: A Small Group Counseling Intervention for 6th Grade Males."  Photo by Erin Zagursky
  • Poster presentations
    Poster presentations  The symposium also offered students a chance to present their research through posters. This one focuses on providing career counseling to clients with a history of substance abuse.  Photo by Erin Zagursky
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William & Mary’s School of Education held its first student research symposium on Friday, featuring more than 40 presentations on counseling and education topics from both undergraduate and graduate students.

The symposium, held at the School of Education, was organized by the Graduate Education Association and the W&M chapter of counseling honor society Chi Sigma Iota with assistance from faculty members.

“We are so incredibly proud of our student organizations and what has been done this year,” said School of Education Dean Virginia McLaughlin, also noting the launch of online journal The William & Mary Educational Review. “When we built this building, we knew that it would help promote a stronger sense of community and identity, and the work that you all have done has surpassed our greatest expectations.”

Kate Slevin, vice provost for academic affairs, offered the keynote address at the symposium, touting the importance of research.

“We do research because we want to get answers to unanswered questions,” she said, “… I think we also do research because we don’t like the questions that have already been asked or we don’t like how they have been asked.”

Slevin offered the students lessons from her own experiences with research, stressing the importance of collaboration and flexibility. However, she also told students to enjoy the process and “the satisfaction that comes with being able to do an excellent piece of research that really does enlighten and answer questions that need to be answered.”

“I salute you,” Slevin said. “I think you are on the cusp of doing wonderful, wonderful things.”

Following Slevin’s keynote, students used classrooms on the second floor of the School of Education building to present their research on a range of topics including, “Surviving Middle School: A Small Group Counseling Intervention for 6th Grade Males,” “Barriers to Career Development: Understanding Native American Youth,” “Career Development for Foster Care Youth,” “College Admissions Counseling 101,” and “Understanding the Language of Bullying.”

Following lunch, even more students presented their research via posters, which featured topics such as “Reintegrating Disabled Veterans Into the Workforce,” “Providing Career Counseling to Individuals with a History of Substance Abuse or Dependence” and “Are You My Mother?: Adoption Policy and its Effects on Gays and Lesbians.”

More classroom presentations followed the poster session, with students discussing research on topics like “Making a Decision to Pursue a PhD,” “Supporting the Career Goals of Low-Income High School Students” and “Reclaiming Intimacy: A Look at Sexuality and Couples Counseling for Men with PTSD.”

Meredith Allred, who is pursuing her master’s degree in higher education at William & Mary, was among the approximately 125 people who attended the event.

“I thought it would be a good chance to hear about some interesting research that people are doing and think about what I might look at for my own master’s project,” she said.

That chance to learn from and inspire one another is one of the main reasons that the symposium was created, said Augustine “Auggy” Kang ’04, M.A. Ed. ’06, president of the W&M Graduate Education Association.

“Students were looking for outlets and venues to share, talk and get to know each other,” he said. “For a while the School of Education didn’t really have a home, and now that we do have a place, people are looking for ways to cross-fertilize.”

Carla Costello, a doctoral student who presented a poster on “The Ties That Bind: How Organizational Structures Impact Female Support Staff,” said that the event provided just that chance.

“The first annual SOE research symposium provided an excellent opportunity for graduate students to share research projects and ideas with colleagues,” she said. “Many students have never attended an educational conference, so the opportunity to do this at ‘home’ made a real difference for W&M graduate students.

“Sharing research projects and ideas is extremely beneficial to all students, but this event went a step further. It helped to foster a sense of community among SOE graduate students, which is another very important part of the education experience.  I am glad I could take part in such a fabulous event.”