Students display their ‘Academic Excellence’

Allie Bedell

Equinox Staff


On Saturday, April 2 at Keene State College 143 students participated in the Academic Excellence Conference where they presented 86 presentations for friends, family, and the KSC community on a variety of topics. The presentations have been in the works since mid-January, when applicants were notified that their abstracts were approved for display at the conference.

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The conference ran all day with events in the Putnam Science Center, the L.P. Young Student Center, and the Zorn Dining Commons. The morning session consisted of three hour-long parts in which attendees chose from a variety of presentations to listen to. A special lunch for all presenters, mentors, and special guests Vice Chair of Board of Trustees George Epstein, KSC-Alumni elected Trustee John Moody, Student Trustee Hannah Hayes, and N.H. State Representative Jane Johnson, was held in the Zorn Dining Commons.

Dean of Arts and Humanities Dr. Nona Fienberg gave the keynote address, titled “Present!” during the luncheon, stressing the importance of being present. She noted that there are three ways to be present in society: through reading, writing, and teaching.

“Let’s think together about what it means to be present on such a day and present on other days,” Fienberg said. “All of us are present to engage.”

Fienberg took the audience through a tour of each of the ways to be present, citing some of her favorite works.

“Writing makes us ‘try to remember some details,’” Fienberg said, quoting poet Yehuda Amichai.

Following lunch, three more hour-long blocks occurred, followed by an hour long poster and presentation exhibit in the Mabel Brown Room to finish up the day.

Senior Benjamin Hon gave a presentation titled “Success in a Recession” from the economics department, mentored by Professor Marie Duggan. Hon evaluated the financial statements of six major companies, Target, Costco, Sears/K-Mart, BJ’s, Wal-Mart, and Macy’s, to determine what it takes for a company to remain profitable during a recession.

“For me, my interest has always been taking the economic theory that we learn about and apply it to the market,” Hon said. “I’m kind of fascinated by when theory fails.”

Another student of Duggan’s, senior Jason Hawkes, gave a presentation called “How has free trade impacted wages in Mexico?” which displayed both the previous and present economic structure of Mexico and how it has impacted Mexico’s economy relative to the rest of the world.

“I’ve always been really interested in how the little guy fits into a bigger situation,” Hawkes said.

Hawkes detailed Mexico’s adoption of a comparative advantage system that ultimately failed.

“It was thought that Mexico would produce goods that were more labor intensive,” Hawkes said. “They’re not completely poor, but they’re not abundant enough to compete with highly skilled countries.”

Sophomore Scott Riess delivered a presentation titled “Stucture and content in Edward Baugh’s ‘Small Town Story,’” under the direction of Professor Carol Bailey of the English department. Riess’ project stemmed from an in-class assignment where students were given the poem with no context where they did not know the name of the author. Students then had to connect with the poem, and were later told that it was written by a Jamaican writer.

“I thought that Scott gave such an insightful reading as someone who comes from such a different culture than the story,” Bailey said.

Riess read his paper that analyzed the three stanzas of the poem and evaluated the narrator’s position during his experience of growing up and getting an education while leaving his friends behind.

“I really feel I can see this same thing happening when I go home for the summer [and] when I go home for break,” Riess said. “We don’t connect anymore. You have to kind of readjust every summer who you are at school and who you are out of school.”

Twenty-nine different disciplines were represented during the Academic Excellence Conference during a variety of presentations. All students submitted an abstract to the Academic Excellence Conference Committee to be evaluated, and worked with their mentors on the project in preparation for the conference after being notified of approval.


Allie Bedell can be contacted at

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