You guys, I graduated from the Kellogg Honors College on Friday! My capstone project is finished!
Well, that’s not entirely true. I need to send one last essay out to a publication, but I’ll tell you about that later. Tonight I wanted to talk about the experience I’ve been working towards for an entire year. To graduate with honors, you have to complete a senior research project and present it at this poster conference. For the uninitiated, I did my project on postmodernism and the high/low culture divide. In a nutshell, I applied postmodern theory to examples of pop culture and made some connections.
The conference and the graduation ceremony is called Convocation, and it’s really fun — I’ve been going since I was a sophomore, and everyone’s happy to share their findings. Of course, I’ve learned tons through this project, but for this post I’m going to zero in on Convocation.
It’s actually really emotional.
I came into KHC as a freshman, and have been consistently and actively involved in the organization. I was only 17 years old when they explained to me that I needed to complete a senior project, and at the time I remember wondering what in the world I was going to research. I didn’t even know postmodernism was a thing yet. I am so so so glad that I had the opportunity to do undergraduate research. I got even deeper into American studies and realized that my journalistic passion is writing about art and culture. In some ways, it inspired this blog.
In the past four years, I’ve taken eight honors courses, participated in six civic engagement opportunities, had three KHC Club officer positions, volunteered in three Showcases of Excellence and spent countless hours in the honors commons having memorable conversations about life and academia. It has become a more significant part of my life than I had ever really realized. I have met some of the most wonderful students, faculty and staff through the program, and for that I am eternally grateful. The honors college gave me a sense of community when I didn’t know very many people on campus, and made me feel like there was always a place for me and support if I needed it.
All that being said, you can imagine that it was a very emotional experience to have it all come to a close. Walking across the stage with my KHC sash and my pin, it hit me that I was done. It’s weird to think that it was only a four-year program and that it’s not going to be part of my life anymore. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the honors college.
The poster is as intensive as the actual project itself.
I made four drafts of my poster before settling on the final one, and I am so glad my wonderful capstone professor (if you happen by some chance to be reading this, Hi Dr. DeRosa) pushed me to do my very best. It’s very newspaper inspired, and I think I had the best balance of text, image and design elements. I’m not even going to skirt around it — I really think I had one of the best posters. It was aesthetically pleasing and easy to read, without being bogged down by dense theory (which I had a lot of) or abstract language. I moved most of my text to a pamphlet I made that people could take with them.
I also had fantastic layout and font advice, and of course, my best friend Paige was a crucial consultant. I was also so glad to show up on Friday and find that my poster was clear and crisp — I was very concerned that the photos weren’t high quality enough. I also took extra time on the title headings that ended up being a great idea. I wanted that particular font that isn’t a standard Microsoft font, so I took the time to convert them into images. Totally and 100 percent worth it. I think it’s what makes the poster.
In retrospect, I only would have made a few changes to my poster. I would have had a better definition for the simulacra (explaining that was incredibly difficult) and I would have given a little bit more room to Kanye West and John Green. I was so concerned with having a good balance of blank space and content, and I think I could have gone a little further.
The experience of presenting was incredibly gratifying.
I’ve been working on this project for a year, and it was wonderful to be able to explain to people what my project was about and have them actually understand it. Postmodernism is not an easy thing to understand — hell, I don’t understand it myself most of the time. But many people thought that what I was doing was really cool cool cool, and that in itself was entirely worth it. I loved that I was able to share my discipline with people from all academic and professional backgrounds. Plus, I was the only student who got a hug from University President Soraya Coley (I gotta say, we’re pretty tight), so all in all, it was something I’ll never forget.
In case you’re interested in reading my papers or reading my poster and pamphlet up close, I’ve uploaded the entire project to Dropbox.
Have questions for me or want to share your undergrad research adventures? Let’s talk about it in the comments.