Learning community students and faculty showcased during "Academic Extravaganza"


Georgia (Nov 21, 2013)                                                      Maddie Connell and Rachel Stephens of Girl Talk II learning community                                                       Mason Bramblett displays emergency supplies


Inaugural event lets first-year students show what they have learned

More than 300 first-year students from 21 learning communities presented posters, demonstrations, theatrical performances, original works of art, multimedia shows and oral presentations during the inaugural First-Year Student Academic Extravaganza in the University Room on Nov. 20.

Students won awards in five categories judged by a panel of faculty, who also designated five faculty award winners. Those attending the showcase voted five “People’s Choice” awards for the most creative, professional and thought-provoking, the most fun and the outstanding/overall favorite presentations.

The "First-Year Student Academic Extravaganza: Learning Communities Showcase and Global Village Poster Presentation" provides students the opportunity to share what they have learned this semester, according to Cathy Bradford, director of learning communities in the Department of First-Year and Transition Studies.

Learning communities link two or three courses with a common theme or academic interest. Enrollment is small — usually no more than 25 students — so students can get to know each other and their professors. First-year students can select a learning community from among a variety of themes, some designed for specific majors and others focused on a topic of general interest and open to all students.

“We wanted to come together as a community to honor and celebrate our students’ learning and to showcase the hard work of our learning-community faculty,” Bradford said. The Academic Extravaganza also gives us a way to assess learning-community student learning outcomes. I think we met all of our major goals and had a lot of fun in the process.”

The exhibits ran the gamut from a series of posters reflecting countries around the world and global themes, a book arts project on alternative justice and exhibits depicting topics as diverse as human trafficking and marriage in India, supporting our troops, negative role models, emergency preparedness, leadership, child abuse, human service agencies and test-taking strategies. A theater learning community teamed with senior biology majors to present six short plays about issues related to conservation, genetic engineering and animal extinction. 

“This was a great project where we really learned a lot about women in India and the issues affecting women — everything from sex trafficking, [societal] roles, marriage and traditions,” said Maddie Connell, a member of a four-member “Girl Talk” team that won a People’s Choice “most professional” award.

Mason Bramblett’s eye-catching display of a survival chest and kits for “whatever happens,” earned him and partner Ian Pilsbury the “most creative” People’s Choice award. He said the emergency preparedness learning community gave him a chance to do what he loves. He keeps his filled-to-the brim survival chest at the foot of his bed, and the more mobile kits stay in his car trunk and closet. He says his boy scout training and love of horror movies have influenced his passion for survival in emergencies. That would explain the inclusion of a “Zombie Survival Guide,” among the more routine emergency items he included on a checklist that he passed out to visitors. 

Students also received “most outstanding” awards in five categories: integrative learning; global learning; strategies for academic success; campus and community connections; and life skills.  The judges were Val Whittlesey, associate vice president for curriculum and professor of psychology; Keisha Hoerrner, associate dean of the University College and professor of communication; Amy Buddie, associate director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and associate professor of psychology; Dan Paracka, director of academic initiatives for the Institute of Global Initiatives and professor of education; and Jennifer Morales, assistant director, Student Life.

Students and faculty won the following awards:


(Determined by the panel of judges)


Winner: All students in learning communities 4, 5, and BIOL 4490

Learning Community: LCs  #4 and #5 (The World of the Scholar Artist – for Theatre and Performance Studies Majors) and the students in BIOL 4490

Presentation: “The Revival Project”

Faculty: Jim Davis (KSU 1101), Margaret Baldwin (TPS 1500), Brian Forrester (TPS 1107), Thomas McElroy (BIOL 4490)



Winner: Cassidy Dunbar and Samantha Hart

Learning Community: #20 (Global Challenges and You)

Presentation: “Rwanda”

Faculty: Ken Hill (KSU 1111), Jason Rhodes (GEOG 1101), and Chiazam Okoye (POLS 1101)



Winner: All students in learning community 36

Learning Community: LC #36 (Leading Ladies: You’ve Got What It Takes!)

Presentation: “Leadership Workshop”

Faculty: Ruth Goldfine and Angela Evans (KSU 1200), Jeannie Parker Beard (ENGL 1101)



Winner: Molly Stracke, Abby Michel, Kristan Mayo, Ashley Royal, and Brittnee Mundy

Learning Community: LC #9 (Get Engaged! – for students interested in Nursing and Human Services)

Presentation: “Child Abuse”

Faculty: Donna Freeman (KSU 1121) and Kendall Klym (ENGL 1101)



Winner: Mary Allen, Dalex Little, Kate Courtney O’Connell, andJaqueline Tanner

Learning Community: LCs #15 and #16 (Emergency! Are You Prepared?)

Presentation: “Wellness”

Faculty: Kathy Lynn (KSU 1101), Bryce McGowan (HPS 1000), Yvonne Wichman (ENGL 1101)



(Determined by the panel of judges) 

Winner: Rick Mosholder and Chuck Wynn

Award: “It Takes A Village Award” (for outstanding assignment requiring a high level of    collaboration between or among faculty)

Learning Community: LCs #28 and #29 (Stepping into America’s Past: What Would You Do?)

Assignment: “Obamacare”


Winner: Natasha Lovelace (KSU 1101),  Sam Robinson (KSU 1101), Marc Brotherton (Art 1150), and Catherine Miles (ART 1100)

Award: “Coloring Outside The Lines Award” (for outstanding creative assignment)

Learning Community: LCs #1 and #2 (Community through the Artist’s Eyes – for Visual Arts majors)

Assignment: “Justice”


Winner: Stephen Dominey (KSU 1121) and Anne Corbitt (ENGL 1101)

Award: “Connecting the Dots Award” (for outstanding integrative assignment)

Learning Community: LC #14 (Get Engaged: Artists, Poets, Dancers, and Performers Unite!)

Assignment: “Drug and Alcohol Abuse”


Winner: Gail Scott (PSYC 1101) andCathy Bradford (KSU 1101)

Award: “Knock Your Socks off Award” (for outstanding student presentation possessing the elusive “wow” factor)

Learning Community: LC #35 (Girl Talk)

Assignment: “Injustice in India” ("Wow" presenters - Victoria Hipsher and Briana Johnston)


Winner: Val Jersey (COM 1109)

Award: “Field of Dreams Award” (for most student participants)

Learning Community: LC #42 and #42 (Thrive: Future Helping Professions and Thrive: Exploring Majors and Careers)

Assignment: “Digital Camera Activity”



(By popular vote of attendees)

Winner: Mason Bramblett and Ian Pilsbury

Award: Most Creative

Presentation: “Making an Emergency Kit”

LC: Emergency! Are You Prepared?

Faculty: Kathy Lynn (KSU 1101), Yvonne Wichman (ENGL 1101), and Bryce McGowan (HPS 1000)


Winner: Angelyn Angeles, Rachel Bridges, Maddie Connell, andRachel Stephens

Award: Most Professional

Presentation: “Marriage in India”

LC: Girl Talk II

Faculty: Cathy Bradford (KSU 1101) and Gail Scott (PSYC 1101)


Winner: Molly Stracke, Abby Michel, Kristan Mayo, Ashley Royal, and Brittnee Mundy

Award: Most Thought-Provoking

LC: Get Engaged! – for students interested in Nursing and Human Services

Presentation: “Child Abuse”

LC: Get Engaged! – for students interested in Nursing and Human Services

Faculty: Donna Freeman (KSU 1101) and Kendall Klym


Winner:Vafa Parsa, Carly Keller, Jordan Rowell, Alexis Ikomoni, and Kiara Roberto

Award: Most Fun

Presentation: “CPR”

LC: Emergency! Are You Prepared?

Faculty: Kathy Lynn (KSU 1101), Yvonne Wichman (ENGL 1101), and Bryce McGowan (HPS 1000)


Winner: Molly Stracke, Abby Michel, Kristan Mayo, Ashley Royal, and Brittnee Mundy

Award:  Most Outstanding/Overall Favorite

Presentation: “Child Abuse”

LC: Get Engaged! – for students interested in Nursing and Human Services

Faculty:Donna Freeman (KSU 1101) and Kendall Klym (ENGL 1101) 

University College: First-Year and Transition Studies


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu