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Otterbein students prepare for sociology conference with dinner and presentations

Otterbein students prepare for sociology conference with dinner and presentations

The Department of Sociology & Anthropology knows how to help solve some of those pre-game jitters. Practice.

Six students, who presented their research at the Northeast Ohio Undergraduate Sociology Symposium (NEOUSS), went through a trial run in an informal practice dinner before peers and faculty in the Otterbein boardroom a few days prior to the symposium. Fifty students, from over 25 different universities and colleges presented March 12 at the Kent State University conference in Kent, Ohio.

“We did a practice run last year too,” said Danielle Docka-Filipek, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology & Anthropology and Otterbein faculty mentor for NEOUSS. “We found it effective and efficient for students to be able to solicit feedback from the entire department simultaneously. Since everybody was all going to be together in the same room at the same time, we decided it would be nice to celebrate their accomplishments as well. Sit down to a nice meal. Have everyone celebrate what the students had done and how hard they worked in what they put together.”

Other members from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology joining Docka-Filipek at the practice session were Department Chairwoman Heidi Ballard and Assistant Professor Leesa Kern.

Madeline English, who presented “Through Their Eyes: The Experiences of Indian Immigrant Families in Columbus, Ohio,” found the practice session very helpful, especially since it was her first time to attend the sociology symposium.

“I was anxious for the dinner to see how everyone else's presentations were looking and to hear from the professors about things that I should improve,” said English, a senior majoring in sociology. “Being able to finally share with others the project that I have been working on for the past year was very exciting and fulfilling.”

Sativa Banks, a sophomore majoring in public health with a minor in sociology, felt fairly confident throughout her presentation, “Taking Resilience in the Homeless for Granted.”

“I wasn’t very nervous about presenting because I enjoy sharing my research with others,” Banks said. “It’s something I’m passionate about and I think everyone needs to hear about it.”

For Shelby Pacheco, a junior majoring in psychology, the practice session “was extremely helpful.”

“It was my very first time presenting my research orally,” said Pacheco, whose research topic was “Gender and Volunteerism in Midwestern College Women.” “I was able to get some good feedback from faculty and peers. I am still nervous for Saturday's presentation, but I feel much more prepared now.”

Other students who participated in the practice session and presented at the symposium included Alicia Perenkovich, a junior majoring in sociology, who spoke about the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program”; William Needleman, a junior majoring in sociology, who presented “The Prison Profiteers”; and Brenna Helm, a junior majoring in psychology and sociology, who discussed “Hegemonic Masculinity: Developing, Proliferating, and Accepting Gendered Violence.”

Some trouble spots that Docka-Filipek and her colleagues tend to uncover in the practice session are how their research question is not articulated clearly or not emphasized enough.

“We can also give them advice on their visuals,” Docka-Filipek continued. “A common mistake undergraduates make is to put a whole dissertation up on a PowerPoint slide. That doesn’t go over so well with an audience. Tighten, hone and simplify.”

The practice session was jointly sponsored by the Sociology and Anthropology Student Association and the Department of Sociology, Criminology and Justice Studies. Funding for the trip to NEOUSS came from both student organizational funds and the Otterbein Student Research Fund.

See more photos from the presentation practice dinner in our Flickr gallery.