Presenters to gain practical experience at symposium

Application deadline Sunday, Feb. 13

Brandeis students work at Waltham Alliance to Create Housing.

Brandeis will hold its third annual Experiential Learning and Engaged Learners Symposium next month, leaving just a few more days to get involved.

The symposium is a daylong event that showcases undergraduates' hands-on explorations - including research, internships and community service - across all disciplines. The application deadline to present at the symposium is Sunday, Feb. 13.

At last year's event, more than 70 students showcased their original work. Chemistry student Benjy Cooper, now a senior, has been working on an innovative research project with Professor Christine Thomas as part of his Schiff Fellowship. Their research aims to mitigate energy resource problems.

"I did it mostly to gain the experience of presenting at a symposium, which I hadn't done before," Cooper said, which he anticipates he'll do frequently going forward, having been accepted into a Ph.D. program at Brown University based on his research at Brandeis. "It was a good place to start - within the Brandeis community, a nice, nurturing environment.

Cooper said that while many of last year's presenters spoke about the process of gaining experience, his talk focused on the research itself.

"A lot of people were about the process, but I did it in a chemistry talk style that I thought I'd go on to do later," he said, adding that following his talk, he enjoyed being approached and interacting with members of the Brandeis community who work in other disciplines.

Senior Robyn Blumberg is looking forward to that experience. Blumberg is a an ExCEL Fellow, a program geared toward increasing experiential learning opportunities for students and educating the community about them. She and Carly Greenberg will present this year on their internships as supervisors for the Waltham Alliance to Create Housing, or WATCH, a tenant advocacy clinic that helps refer people with housing problems to the appropriate resources. The program is administered through the Waltham Group, a student-led community service organization.

"I think it will be a great opportunity to get the word out about this great organization," said Blumberg, who wants to incorporate social responsibility into her career path. "It's also a way to educate the community on something they helped create."

Blumberg said she's pleased to see how the experiential learning program has grown in her years at Brandeis, but wishes she'd been aware of the opportunities it offered earlier in her undergraduate career. In presenting her work, she said, she can also help prevent others from missing out.

Those who present will be paired with a conference mentor, and will also be eligible to attend private, faculty-led workshops on making effective presentations. This year's symposium will feature opening remarks from President Fred Lawrence.

Visit the symposium website for more information and to learn how to apply, or contact contact Audra Grady.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, Student Life

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