Dr. Sherree Wood attended her first University College Day on April 19, 30 years after graduating from Texas Wesleyan.
“I’m here today as a friend,” Wood said, “because miss (Jessica) Davenport won the award that was named for my husband last spring (at the Texas Wesleyan Award ceremony).”
Davenport, a senior criminal justice major, had invited both Wood and her husband to her presentation, “Are the Current Strict Immigration Policies Endangering the Lives of Undocumented Latina Victims of Domestic Violence?” This was just one the 133 presentations presented by students at UCD.
This semester, UCD included not only presentations, but a performance from the Wesleyan Chamber Singers, Ram Jam (a gathering of student organizations’ booths and free lunch at Dora’s), a keynote panel and speaker (Emily Snow, Mike Leslie, John Henry, Claudia Castillo, and Everson Walls), and a movie showing of the documentary Tickling Giants.
“I think (UCD’s) a really good idea,” Wood said. “It’s extremely good for students to get up in front of other students and faculty and make presentations, because it gives them a grounding on their research where they feel more comfortable. You can understand the subject, but until you teach that subject you really don’t understand it. This gives them that opportunity.”
Wood wasn’t initially aware of the uniqueness of the day, but after attending two presentations and learning some new things she was glad Davenport invited her. Davenport was excited to share her topic.
“I was nervous, because it was my first time presenting,” Davenport said. “I was also excited to share the research, because it’s a subject I’m passionate about. I wish I would have covered more areas because it involved so broad a topic.”
Davenport said she grows her passion from her own experiences and hopes to raise awareness for her topic of domestic violence against undocumented immigrants.
“Like I said, because I was a victim at one point, I knew that I wanted to focus on domestic violence, but I needed to narrow it down to a group,” Davenport said. “It was Latinas after seeing what we all had to witness in the news with this new presidency. I definitely wanted to address how it affected them and I just thought it was something that we should be aware of.”
Davenport’s favorite part of UCD was getting to see what all the other majors were passionate about.
“I guess that I’m glad that the university provides this day,” Davenport said, “where everybody’s able to present everything that they’ve been researching that they’re passionate about, just as much as I am with my subject and that they’re able to educate people about them.”
For senior criminal justice major Katie Matthews, that thing was serial killers.
“My thing about this presentation is that people at Wesleyan have their ideas about how a serial killer looks like,” Matthews said. “What I’m trying to say is no, they look normal so don’t be fooled by someone’s mask of normalcy. Serial killers could be anybody.”
Matthews was surprised that she had a full house show up for her presentation on Kansas serial killer Dennis Rader, known as the B.T.K. Killer, for “bind, torture, kill.” She enjoyed watching the reactions of audience members when presenting the material.
“It was mind-blowing how many people showed up and I really appreciate it,” Matthews said. “A lot of my friends showed up.”
One of those friends that showed up was sophomore paralegal studies and religion major Jacqueline Rodriguez.
“I came because of extra credit and one of my friends (Matthews) is presenting,” Rodriguez said. “I think the serial killers are going to be really interesting.”
Rodriguez said this was her first time at UCD and that she may present at next year’s event.
“This year I was kind of scared to do it, because last year I didn’t come to University College Day,” Rodriguez said. “I got the option to present today instead of writing an essay, but I was kind of scared so I wrote an essay. Next year I might present instead.”
Rodriguez said she’d like to see more advertising before next year’s event. Sophomore music major Rachel Tomlinson agrees.
“I was a little confused by what the day was,” Tomlinson said. “Honestly, I didn’t understand what was to happen, what we need to do as students who are not presenting, and I was confused because I didn’t know what we were supposed to do. There was a schedule online, but it didn’t explain well what was going on.”
Tomlinson is hopeful that UCD will be explained better next year, and she did enjoy the presentation she went to.
“I thought it was very informative,” Tomlinson said. “It was Nicholas’s (Squyres) and he did a presentation on the art of screaming. I thought that was very interesting, out of the box, and awesome.”
Senior accounting major Audrey Showalter, who is working on earning her MBA, did a presentation on academic cheating. She also enjoyed the variety of learning that takes place at UCD.
“My favorite part is kind of seeing what all the other students are working on,” Showalter said. “If you read the program there are so many different ideas, different philosophies going around, and different things to learn about on this day.”