Celebrating Student Achievement | St. Lawrence University

Celebrating Student Achievement

Every April, the St. Lawrence community gathers to share in the expansive academic accomplishments of students during a weekend dedicated to celebrating their achievements.

The weekend kicked off with Festival Day, a tradition that started in 2014 where classes aren’t held so students, faculty, and staff can spend the day exploring each other's research and co-curricular endeavors. The day’s highlights include the Festival of Science, Scholarship, and Creativity, the First-Year Seminar Research Exchange Festival, as well as concerts, recitals, and exhibitions.

“It kind of changed my mindset and showed me anything is possible,” said Michael K. Yirenkyi ’22 as he reflected on his First-Year Seminar. His research project, titled “Biomimicry: Using Nature as a Model for Contemporary Design”, provided Yirenkyi with a new perspective on the design industry in which he was already enthusiastic about.

“It’s a different approach to how we look at nature,” explained Yirenkyi, as he stood alongside his project illustrating the design potential of shark skin and automobiles. “And how we could apply everything we’ve learned, incorporate that into our society and make our design more sustainable and innovative.”

For some, as they presented research or gave performances in front of their peers and mentors, the day was a culmination of their time at St. Lawrence. Anneke Huynen ’19, a history major, combined a curiosity discovered in the classroom and a personal connection she had with the material into a framework for her senior year project, “Competing Expectations in the Role of Peacekeeping: The ‘Failure’ of Dutchbat/UNPROFOR at Srebrenica.”

A Saint Lawrence University student stands in front of a research poster.

“I was interested in investing my time in a year-long project for my capstone in history. In my sophomore spring, I took a course called ‘Genocide in the Modern World’ with [Associate Dean for Academic Advising Programs and Associate Professor of History] Gabriel and was I was really affected by the material,” said Huynen as she reflected on the inspiration for her studies. “Having my family come from the Netherlands, I took a natural interest in the Dutch peacekeepers’ association with the Srebrenica massacre during the Bosnian War.”

In addition to students sharing their academic achievements, many put their personal interests on display for the community as well.

“Neither of us are music majors,” said Chandler Turpin ’19, who performed in a student music recital alongside Taylor Goldman ’19, with the help of Director of Music Ensembles Barry Torres. “We found out we had the ability to take one-on-one lessons with Barry and perform in a capacity that we enjoy and will help us grow as singers.”

Two Saint Lawrence University students sing in a classroom.

Chandler Turpin '19 performs alongside Taylor Goldman '19.

More than 450 St. Lawrence students shared their academic endeavors and research alongside nearly 100 faculty mentors during Festival Day. Students gave more than 250 oral and poster presentations and took part in more than a dozen performances and recitals. The Richard F. Brush Art Gallery is featuring the work of 26 student artists through the two exhibits that opened during Festival Day: the Art & Art History Senior Exhibition, “Do You Feel Like We Do?” and Life in Plastic”, a collaborative installation by students in the First-Year Seminar, "Curating for Change.”

“We came to Festival Day because there are a lot of people we know presenting, and we wanted to support them and the research they’ve done all semester or all year long,” explained Madi Yarborough ’19, who attended presentations throughout the day along with Meg O’Connor ’19.

Yarborough, a biology major, has attended Festival Day every year that she’s been on-campus. “It’s really cool to see what other students are learning about compared to your own classes.”

A Saint Lawrence University student smiles as he stands alongside his two faculty mentors.

David Bain '19, center, presented his research during Festival Day. Pictured with him are two of his faculty mentors, Associate Professor of Chemistry Samantha Glazier and Hayward Associate Professor of Physics Catherine Jahncke.

Many St. Lawrence students spend their final semester or year conducting research in preparation for post-graduate work. For David Bain ’19, who will be attending University of California, Berkeley, next year in their Chemistry Ph.D. program, he recognized the value in embarking on this kind of high-level academic work.

“I think all research is worth sharing because collectively it is what forms our academic world,” Bain commented when he reflected on the merit of sharing results from his project, ‘Kinetic Characterization of Chemotherapy Drugs’. “Without sharing what we learn from research, there is no way for others to learn from it and build on it.”

A Saint Lawrence University student performs during a dance concert.

Abbie Cooper ’19 performed during the Spring Dance Concert, “Movement Stories”.

Abbie Cooper ’19 participated in Festival Day for the first time this year. Cooper took part in the Spring Dance Concert, “Movement Stories”, that ran throughout the weekend.

“I was inspired to choreograph my program because I have danced all my life but had never choreographed an entire piece before,” expressed Cooper, who performed and choreographed a contemporary solo to ‘Take Me to Church’ by Hozier. “St. Lawrence has given me an opportunity to do that and share what I love to do with the community.”