Projects promote positivity in communities

Meaghan Wilby, Features Editor

Students from the first-year seminar titled “Meadville’s Military Matters,” and the biology class “Physiology of Vision” presented posters on their community-engaged research projects in the lobby of the Henderson Campus Center on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

Austin Hoyt, ’20, is currently taking “Meadville’s Military Matters” and presented his poster at the event. His project focused on military memorials in Diamond Park in Meadville and displays from Acting Aging, Inc.’s 17th annual Through A Veteran’s Eye: A Salute Preview Event. Hoyt found that both the memorials and the displays help instill military pride in the Meadville community.

“It’s interesting learning about the military and how it connects to Meadville, and in turn how it connects to Allegheny College,” Hoyt said. “Meeting the lady whose grandfather won two purple hearts, talking to her at [the event] was probably the most interesting [part of my research].”

For their research, students in the first-year seminar were allowed to choose their own topics. Cayton Hornberger, ’20, along with many other members of his class, chose to focus on manufacturing and the different companies in Meadville that produced goods for World War I and World War II.

According to Hornberger’s research, there were four main companies that produced a variety of goods, including zippers for boots and lifejackets, bombs and TNT, rayon and fabrics, and glass lenses for the Norden Bombsight. These companies were Keystone Ordinance Works, Talon, Keystone View Company and American Viscose Corporation.

“Finding out the different companies [was interesting],” Hornberger said. “I didn’t realize there were so many companies that did stuff for the military.”

The posters presented by students from “Physiology of Vision” focused on vision-related community work, rather than Meadville’s military involvement and history.

The biology class is taught by Associate Professor Christy Donmoyer, who said her main aim for this community-engagement project was to help the students to better understand not just the biology behind blindness, but also what daily life is like for someone who is blind.

The class partnered with three local and regional groups that all work with blind people: Active Aging, Inc., The Foundation Fighting Blindness and the Keystone Blind Association. Some students traveled to Pittsburgh to attend The Foundation Fighting Blindness’ VisionWalk that helps raise money to fund vision research.

Donmoyer also had Keystone Blind Association clients come to campus twice during the semester and had the students interact with them  and give formal presentations.

“That’s where my students got to find out how blind people interact,” Donmoyer said.

Sam Thomas, ’18, and Abigail Sims, ’18, presented a poster on their community-engaged research with Active Aging, Inc. The pair gave a presentation on cataracts and cataract treatment to Active Aging, Inc. members and staff for their project.

“While we were not able to give the professional opinion akin to that of an eyecare professional, we were able to impart valuable and relevant knowledge,” Thomas said. “Through our presentation, we were able to educate [the Active Aging, Inc. clients and staff].”

Sims emphasized the community focus of the project and the benefits projects like this can have on the relationship between the Allegheny College and Meadville communities.

“We hope that through our project we are able to bridge the gap between the Meadville community and the Allegheny College campus,” Sims said.