2022 Saints Start Challenge Grant Projects Announced

The St. Lawrence University Sophomore Success Initiative is happy to announce its 2022 Saints Start Challenge Grant recipients. The Saints Start Challenge Grant program is funded by the Mellon Foundation and enables sophomores to undertake research projects, creative work, volunteer service, or internships that will pave the way for their future success.   Projects involve reflection, mentoring, exploration, and community engagement, along with an opportunity to work closely with at least one St. Lawrence faculty or staff member.   Here are the 2022 Saints Start Challenge Grant projects as described by each of the recipients:

Marliese Baer ’24 will be studying American Kestrels and their breeding success in relation to various wildlife factors. She will be working with Associate Professor of Biology Dr. Susan Willson and with Mr. Mark Manske, owner of Adirondack Raptors. She will be adding to and updating a dataset that has been compiled over the last 15 years by Dr. Willson, Mr. Manske, and previous students. She will be learning from and working with her mentors and will be trained to collect and analyze these data. There are 150 nest boxes they will be visiting and monitoring for activity. She will be furthering her field experience and acquiring techniques of handling wild birds by learning how to safely and legally handle and band American Kestrel nestlings. She will be looking at nesting success of kestrel breeding boxes, determining which boxes had the greatest success in fledging chicks, and then examining the environmental features and landscape characteristics that could have resulted in these varying levels of success. This will allow them to determine the optimal habitat for these birds of prey and could inform the further conservation of the species.

enmity L. Field ‘24 will be exploring video game design through online tutorials, completion of a professional certificate program, and creation of a simple game prototype. They will be learning the importance of cohesion in narrative and user experience as well as the familiarity with and use of multiple game creation engines. What they learn during the summer will serve as a valuable part of the addition to their resume and portfolio going forward in their career.  Through this experience, they will explore the connections between the narrative craft as they’ve previously explored it through the short story and Essay and now in the video game narrative design. Ultimately they hope this experience will propel them toward their future in the field and the ability to make the gaming space more inclusive for all.   Dr. Alvin Henry, Associate Professor of English, will serve as a mentor for this project.

Billie McClosky ‘24 will be conducting research based in Amman, Jordan collecting information regarding various religious and cultural sites throughout the country. She will be creating an interactive map of Jordan for St. Lawrence University students who focus on Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic Studies- the map will be accessible in an online format and will cover art, photography, and architecture, all coupled with a written component to each piece, providing deeper information about the topic. The grant will allow her to continue her studies in Arabic language and culture while gathering fundamental and integral information regarding Jordanian life and culture in the Arab world that can be made accessible to all students who require it. Billie will be working closely with her mentor, Ms. Gisele El Khoury, Arabic Instructor and Director of the Language Resource Center, throughout the data collection process and in creating the finished product.

Valeria Obregon ‘24 started the project @sluclosetheloop, an initiative to reduce waste at St. Lawrence University by fostering an exchange and swap culture on campus. She is planning on dedicating her summer to consolidating this project. The first part of her project is volunteering with SLU Reuse a couple of weeks after the semester is over, helping collect, organize and classify all the items left behind by students making sure the least amount of items are discarded. In addition to that, she will also be working on a handbook for SLU Close The Loop that will include all the information on how to run a successful swapping event based on strategies and feedback collected from the three swapping events that took place during this spring semester.   Dr. Sara Ashpole, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, and Ms. Ashlee Downing-Duke, Senior Associate Director of Student Activities & Leadership and Director of Sullivan Student Center, will serve as mentors for this project.