On April 7, 2022, Meredith College hosted its 20th Celebrating Student Achievement (CSA) Day as a hybrid conference. CSA Day is a day-long annual celebration of student achievement, including research presentations, posters, performances, creative projects, awards, exhibits, and more.
Carolina Perez-Heydrich, assistant professor of biological sciences and director of undergraduate research, organized this year’s conference. She explains the importance of CSA Day to the Meredith community.
“I think a lot of times we all get too focused on our own work and forget about what’s going on in the community around us. CSA Day offers us an escape from our day-to-day silos and serves as a reminder of the incredibly hard-working, creative, and accomplished community we’re a part of,” she said.
Attendees had several ways to attend the presentations, including in-person, Zoom, and the CSA Day YouTube channel.
Preparation for this year’s CSA Day began in the fall of 2021. At the time, vaccinations were readily available to the public, and a high percentage of the community was vaccinated. Based on these facts, the organizers decided to hold the event in person this year since 2021’s conference was held virtually.
“We wanted to allow for flexibility in case COVID metrics worsened, and participants needed to isolate or did not feel comfortable coming to campus. Hosting the event as a hybrid conference would allow us the most flexibility,” said Perez-Heydrich.
This year, topics covered included studies on social identity, the history of pandemics, gender roles in literature, politics and society, design and art history, chemistry and biology, global music, education, studies in social and visual perception, interdisciplinary: games, stories, and business, and nutrition and health.
Live performances by the improvisations student-run dance group were held in the Cate Center. The students performing ranged from freshmen to seniors. Music and theater students presented their talents in the Jones Studio Theater and Carswell Hall.
Poster presentations were also held in the Cate Center. The research presented included coastal erosion on the North Carolina coast, biodiversity at Meredith Lake, identification of protein function, teacher-family relationships in childcare centers, and women in politics: activism and feminism according to North Carolina Women of Color.
Perez-Heydrich said she received positive feedback about this year’s hybrid conference. Several attendees mentioned they enjoyed remotely joining oral presentations since it allowed them to see more presentations than in previous years. Perez-Heydrich said one faculty member told her it was nice to hear the Cate Center lively again.
“For presenting students, CSA Day provides an opportunity to showcase their work in a professional yet supportive setting. They get to experience the early anxiety associated with preparing for a presentation or performance, which can be nerve-racking. But with that also comes the well-earned sense of confidence associated with hard work and the receptiveness of their final products by the broader community,” she said.
The presentations from this year’s and last year’s CSA Day are available on the Virtual CSA Day YouTube channel.