Academic and Research Symposium Celebrates Student Achievement

Assistant Professor of Bilingual Education and Spanish Gregory Robinson Guerra introduces a panel of international students at the 19th Academic and Research Symposium.

© Western New Mexico University

The 19th WNMU Academic and Research Symposium and Career Fair was held Tuesday, Nov. 28 and Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. The symposium, which provides a showcase for student academic and creative achievement, took place in the J. Cloyd Miller Library.

Occurring in conjunction with the symposium was a career fair that brought in a number of area employers. Students had an opportunity to learn about working for the various employers and about openings available.

According to Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Kate Oubre, the symposium provides students with an opportunity to become more confident public speakers. “It is an opportunity for students to practice public presentation in a different way than they do in a classroom,” said Oubre.

Oubre acknowledged that presenting one’s work publicly can feel quite daunting, so the organizing committee works to ensure that the symposium brings some levity and fun. “We have a couple of really fantastic student members this year [who have been working on how] to create a more festive atmosphere,” she noted.

The format for the symposium resembles an academic conference, with individual oral presentations, group presentations and panels, and a poster session, where students had a chance to talk with visitors about their projects.

Senior nursing major Thomas Lares, who along with classmate Alyssa Sublasky presented a poster on diabetic ketoacidosis, said that the symposium felt like a culminating project for their time in the nursing program. “It really brings everything together,” he said, “You can see how the different subjects [we studied] fit together as one.”

Oubre said that planning the symposium was very much a team project, with faculty representing diverse disciplines as well as students involved in the process. “Over the years we have had a number of faculty members who have really embraced this process for their students,” she said, “They have helped to cultivate their students and promote the academic symposium to [them].”

Oubre indicated that she especially appreciated the diversity of topics and approaches as well as the collaborative mentorship process by which students develop their presentations. She pointed to the faculty in the natural sciences in particular, noting that they do “an amazing job of helping students understand how to talk about really complex issues to a general audience.”

Will Tracy, Manager of the Outdoor Program also noted opportunities for mentorship as one of the primary benefits of the symposium. Tracy moderated a panel of students who had accompanied him last summer on an outdoor leadership experience in New Hampshire and surrounding states. The symposium presentation and discussion, he said, was the final self-reflective project in connection with the experience. “We have had a terrific group of students” in Outdoor Leadership Studies, he said, “who have really embraced experiential learning.”

Another featured panel presentation was on being an international student at WNMU. The student panelists each talked about their own experiences, and they fielded questions from the audience. “People were really engaged and asked us many questions,” said Oscar Arteaga, one of the panelists and a master’s degree candidate in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Oubre noted that the symposium usually draws a number of students who have engaged in community-based service-learning projects. “Those are always really interesting to me because it shows the breadth of what is here and how people can participate,” she said.






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