One of the most important parts of completing a four-year degree at ABAC is the presentation of the Capstone Senior Project, and for history majors, this is accompanied by presentations of research at conferences. Presenting in front of the faculty at ABAC, or in front of scholars in a field that you’ve researched, can be a daunting task.
To help prepare students for this, Dr. Jess Usher gave students in his Native American History class the option to present final research projects for his class in a “mini-conference”. Eight students had the opportunity to present final research, with some students having the chance to present work from outside the course that they were using at research conferences. Dr. Russell Pryor and Dr. James Galt-Brown came to observe and present questions for students.
On the first day of presentations, three students were able to present. The first was Jesse Page, who presented work he had done for African American History with Dr. Usher that he plans to present at multiple research conferences. Sarah Hughes presented her research on resistance among Cherokee women to assimilation, and Kevin Joachin came to the class to present research on the Yaqui people of Mexico and their fight against land takings. The students gave interesting presentations and were able to engage with the students and professors who were listening in by answering questions and providing new information.
The second day of presentations was a bit longer, with four students giving presentations. Brittney Fuller went first, presenting her project on Cultural Erasure at Off-Reservation Boarding Schools. Her presentation gained some intense audience feedback and interaction but set the exciting tone for the rest of the presentations that day. Karmen Tovar went next, tying in her project to Fuller’s with information about indigenous teachers at the boarding schools that Fuller discussed in her presentation. Benjamin Cravey discussed the Cherokee in the court system and delved into why they chose to fight with the law rather than with arms. Brittney Bass finished out the day with her project on the lost colony of Roanoke, and the theories of how they relate to the Croatoan tribe that was present not far from the colony when it was established.
All of the presentations engaged with the audience and many of the question and answer portions ended with fewer questions and more of a discussion between audience members and presenters. The valuable research experience that students gained from the project, and the experience for future conferences, will prove invaluable in the future.