Celebration Day prepares to highlight student work

Celebration Day has replaced Gator Day for the spring semester 2017. Instead of hosting Gator Day in the middle of the semester, Celebration Day is scheduled for May 2, 2017, the day after classes end.

Terry Bensel, director of the gateway, said the change was motivated by a desire to allow students to showcase the work they have done.

“The idea is that we’ve never really had a dedicated time at Allegheny, when we really allow students across all four years to demonstrate the kind of amazing work that they do,” Bensel said.

In previous years, the school has hosted times for students to show their work; however, since these events were held on the same days as classes, they always had to compete with other programming, Bensel said. Furthermore, in the past these programs only included seniors, and work by other class years was often overlooked.

Really look at this as an opportunity for students to basically teach other students.

— Jim Fitch

“Gator Day is about how there are a lot of ways you can become an excellent Gator,” Bensel said. “For example, here’s how to get an internship, here’s how to do undergraduate research, here’s how to get involved in you name it.”

The Office of Undergraduate Research Scholarships and Creative Activities has been having biweekly meetings to plan the events of Celebration Day with Aimee Knupsky, URSCA’s director, according to Meghan Stewart, ’17, a national sciences representative.

“It’s after comps and it’s right before graduation, but it’s to look at all of their accomplishments and not just individual accomplishments,” said Shane Ostrom, ’19, a student assistant for URSCA.

Ostrom said much of the work that will be presented on the Celebration Day will be work that has gone unnoticed previously.

Currently, URSCA is choosing people for each of the events and reaching out to honor societies for further assistance in setting up for the events.

“I have worked with the Career Education team to identify and nominate students for poster presentations as part of the celebration and have been working to recruit alumni to come back as part of an alumni panel,” said Jim Fitch, director of career education.

Fitch said he has also been collaborating specifically with Barbara Riess, associate professor of  modern and classical languages.

Bensel said he thinks Knupsky wants to keep the events simple this year to showcase student accomplishments, update students on what is happening in the Gateway, the library research award and poster presentations.

“I think it will be really cool to see all the different projects that have gone on because, while I have been here for four years and have been involved in multiple projects and talked to a bunch of people during their own research, I still feel as though there’s a lot I don’t know that goes on,” Stewart said.

Honors Convocation was always on the last day of classes for the academic year. Now, it will be a part of Celebration Day on the day after the last day of classes in order to facilitate greater student turnout, Bensel said.

“The fall Gator Day is how to become a good Gator or an excellent Gator, and the spring Gator Day — which is now Celebration Day or Symposium — is about showcasing all the excellent things the students have done,” Bensel said.

Bensel said if you count all of the students presenting and being honored, 10 percent of the student body should be involved in some way.

Temporarily, this day will be called Celebration Day; however, until recently, it was referred to as the Symposium for Allegheny Gator Excellence, or SAGE.

“I think [the name] is actually going to be revealed on the day [of the event],” Stewart said.

Ostrom is working with Student Photographer Sarah Seitanakis, ’19, to design the logo for Celebration Day.

“What are my hopes for this day? Honestly, to see it go smoothly,” Ostrom said. “It means a lot to a lot of people, and so it’s just cool to see everyone come together, and if it goes smoothly, it does what it is supposed to, then it’ll be successful.”

Stewart said it makes sense that Gator Day occurs during the fall semester, but that it is now replaced with celebrating research.

“Really look at this as an opportunity for students to basically teach other students,” Fitch said. “To hopefully show those students, ‘this is what I did while I was here at Allegheny,’ and have that serve as a model for possibilities for underclass students.”

Fitch said since Gator Day was planned so late in the spring semester, the purpose of Gator Day did not make sense to be held during that time of the academic year. Internships and jobs have already chosen who they are hiring by then.

“We’re viewing this as an experiment,” Fitch said. “We’ll see how it works out, and I hope that there will be good turnout and that the students will feel appreciated for the work they have done.”

Students share ideas when they are put in a situation of open discussion with one another, Fitch said. He said he hopes the event will help to facilitate these kinds of interactions.

“My hope is that students will turn out for at least some of the events for two reasons,” Bensel said. “One is to support their friends who may be part of the programming, and I would really hope, especially first- and second-year students, come out so that they can see what other students have done.”