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First-Year Academic Expo held, Student Projects Receive Awards


Students at FYE-Academic-Expo
Students Shelby Henley, Zoey Meeks, Jacob "Micah" Langston and Gabrielle "Gabby" White discuss their projects during the FYE Academic Expo.

JONESBORO – Students from Arkansas State University competed in the First-Year Experience (FYE) Academic Expo on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

“The FYE Academic Expo offers students hands-on experiential learning that helps them connect to each other, their faculty as mentors, and the campus,” said Kelli Listenbee, coordinator, First-Year Experience.

This showcase consists of research, community projects and creative works and is presented by first-year students.

“Students who participate in expos and conferences not only get to exhibit what they have learned, but it also acts to validate their role in academia,” said LaVonda Evans, instructor in sociology. “Having the opportunity to submit their work among peers promotes individual growth and establishes a strong foundation in which they will continue to flourish academically.”

First-year students participate in this event through their Making Connections class they take in the fall.

“We believe it to be both a retention tool, and a way for our students to celebrate all they have done and can do while at A-State,” Listenbee added.

Students could take home awards in three categories including philanthropy, connections and research.

Those competing for the philanthropy category develop and execute a service project for either campus or the surrounding community. Connections competitors create a project that will better connect them to their major or a campus resource. Focusing on their major field of study, those in the research category conduct a research-based project.

First, second and third place awards were presented, along with a best-of-show award.  

The winners of best-in-show are the First-Year Experience Making Connections sociology and criminology majors. Their project, “Investigating the Relationship Between University Students and Opiates,” led students to identify three points of reference: campus resources to combat opioid overdoses, campus drop boxes and proper medication disposal, as well as campus knowledge of opiates.

“Their project culminated with a drug drive, research paper, and connecting with campus resources. Their findings indicate that while most students on campus know what Narcan is, they do not have a clear understanding of appropriate disposal methods of unused prescription medications. Additionally, the class identified resources on campus in the event someone may be experiencing an opioid overdose,” said Evans.

The project started when the students asked Evans about her daughter who had recently had surgery. She said she explained that some of the medications her daughter was prescribed were unavailable.

“The students began talking about how the nation's crackdown on opiates may have an unintended consequence on people with a legitimate need for the medication and the impact it’s having on pharmacies and patrons across the country, by denying a valid prescription,” she added.

Students began reviewing literature and documentaries to better understand the opioid epidemic.

“I am extremely impressed by this group of students and this win is from their dedication, engagement, and strong efforts to see the project through to completion. I’m both honored and thankful for the opportunity to be their teacher this semester,” said Evans.

The class of Dr. Martin Huss, associate professor of botany, won first place in philanthropy with their project, “Coat Drive – Keeping the Red Wolf Pack Warm this Winter.” Second place in philanthropy went to the class of Jerrod Lockhart, student development specialist, with their project “Period Power.” The class of Catherine Beaver, academic success coach, took home third place with their project “NEA Humane Society Making Connections Service Project.”

Connections category winners include the class of Arianne Pait, assistant professor of communications disorders, with their project, “Jeopardy as a way to Enhance Academic Camaraderie in Communications Disorders.” Second place winners were from the class of Alyson Nichols, instructor in computer science, with their project “Mystic Lands.” Andrew Nolley, academic success coach, and his class placed third with their project, “De-stress Event.”

The class of Gwennette Confer, retention specialist, won first place in research with their project, “The Viability of Solar Energy in Reducing the Carbon Footprint in Northeast Arkansas.” The second-place winners, from the class of Dr. Yeonsang Hwang, associate professor of civil engineering, and Dr. Shivan Haran, associate professor of mechanical engineering, conducted research on their project “Truss-style Bridge Design.” The class of Dr. John Artim, lecturer in biology, won third place with their project, “It’s a Bug’s Life: Insect Biodiversity at the A-State Bird Observatory.”