The 33rd annual Elkin Isaac Symposium was hosted on Thursday. The Elkin Isaac Symposium is an event where students present the results of their research to students, faculty and staff.
Throughout the day, attendees listened to presentations, attended the Honors Convocation in Goodrich Chapel and read posters.
The day was filled with diverse research, ranging from scientific to personal interest.
Alyvia Fondren, Ida junior, did her research project on LGBTQ+ resources. She found that Albion College doesn’t currently have an accessible resource page for students who are a part of the community.
“The only way to find out about these resources is if you know a faculty who’s also in the community and they tell you,” Fondren said.
Throughout the semester, Fondren compiled all the resources that are available on campus and has worked to create a cohesive web page, which she said will be available by the end of the semester.
Fondren’s research included surveying schools similar to Albion College, like Kalamazoo College. She learned about the types of resources they offer and how accessible they are and compared them to those offered at Albion College.
“They had a webpage, it’s brief, it’s only a couple tabs long, but it’s something, which is more than what we have right now,” said Fondren.
Fondren also surveyed the types of resources offered at the University of Michigan and found that they have a whole center dedicated to LGBTQ+ resources.
Fondren said that this is most likely because the University of Michigan has more resources. Albion College is ultimately attempting to create a similar center to offer a wide range of resources for the LGBTQ+ community, but that the college needs funding in order to do so.
Although a center is the ultimate goal, Fondren found that there were a number of practices that should continue to be used in order to support the community.
“Representation is really important, so making sure that we have diverse faculty who can support these students and act as mentors for them,” Fondren said. “Additionally, being affirming of activism for our students is really important”.
Fondren also emphasized the importance of providing intersectional speakers for students of color, since they don’t always get that representation.
After Albion College’s previous Support Coordinator for the Center of Gender Equity, Haley Hill, left the school, the college is searching for someone new to fill her shoes and improve resource accessibility.
Fondren also aims to set up a number of policies, like a pronoun usage policy in classrooms, which would encourage students to respect other students’ pronouns and an allyship course which would present professors with badges to show students that they’re affirming and could talk to them in a safe space.
Megan McCulloch, Fort Gratiot senior, did her research project on anxiety and OCD and their connection to individuals with CHARGE Syndrome. She conducted a direct study with Dr. Shanti Brown in the Psychology department.
CHARGE Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder and is the leading cause of congenital deaf-blindness. The acronym, CHARGE, defines all the characteristics of CHARGE Syndrome, according to the poster.
“This includes missing sections of the eye, incomplete or damage to the structure of the heart, restriction of growth and development, hormone imbalances and lastly, a very common characteristic is ear abnormalities and deafness” McCulloch said.
Brown previously did a study for her dissertation, looking at anxiety, OCD and individuals with CHARGE. She found that individuals diagnosed with CHARGE Syndrome experience high levels of anxiety and OCD.
McCulloch implemented Brown’s research to look at interventions that could be implemented to help eliminate the amounts of anxiety individuals with CHARGE Syndrome experience.
McCulloch said that the two main sources of support include the use of an intervener, which facilitates the individual’s access to the environment, especially those who are deaf-blind, through the use of well-trained professionals and the use of the Calendar System, which is a structural way of communicating future activities by the use of touch.
“Some benefits of these two interventions are: they provide a form of communication for the individual, a lot of predictability and security, autonomy and confirmation,” McCulloch said.