It’s that time of the semester: while all of us are frantically trying to get work done for this week and next week, which is finals week, many of our seniors on campus are finishing up and presenting their senior seminars and capstones.
All McDaniel seniors are required to do a culminating project in their major(s). Some departments call these projects senior seminars (commonly known as senior sem(s) or sem) and some call them capstones. Whatever they’re called, all of these projects require a tremendous amount of work, writing, and research.
I know a lot of seniors who presented their senior sems yesterday, and since they’re generally open for anyone on campus to attend, I had the chance to attend my friend Hanna’s presentation.
Hanna, who is an English major, talked about the rhetoric of Allies (McDaniel’s Gay-Straight Alliance) in her presentation. She discussed how Allies uses rhetorical strategies when communicating with their club members that are different from those they use to communicate with the campus community at large. Learning about this binary was fascinating, and Hanna did a fantastic job researching and presenting her project.
I’m very glad I got to attend Hanna’s sem presentation. Since she’s my friend, I was happy that I was able to go support her. And since I’m an English major who also has a strong interest in rhetoric, it was great for me to see what a senior sem presentation that focuses on rhetoric can be like. The thing that I love about rhetoric is that it can take practically any topic involving communication and analyze it in incredibly interesting ways. While senior sem is a long, daunting, and intense process, I’m finding myself looking forward to my own at the moment. My senior sem will give me the opportunity to research something I am (hopefully) fascinated by and share that fascination with others.
At the end of your time at McDaniel, you will be required to do some sort of project that will culminate your experience here. For English majors, this means a 20-25 page research paper that analyzes some sort of literature. At the end, we also have to give a 20 minute presentation to our fellow classmates, some of the professors from the English department, and whoever else shows up!
I chose to write my Senior Seminar on two Holocaust Memoirs-Night and Survival in Auschwitz If This is a Man. While this has been a very depressing topic to study for the last five months, it was very interesting. I studied the stylistic differences in these two Holocaust Memoirs and compared the effects that they had on the reader’s interpretations of the text. I started my research over the summer, which was hard for me to make myself do, since I was really enjoying my time off from school. However, once I got to school and already had my research question and some of my sources, it made starting my paper a lot easier. My professor made us all write five pages a week so that we would not get too far behind. We met with her every week to go over what we had written, which was very helpful, since we knew whether or not we were on the right track. Throughout the entire semester, I spent many late nights reading sources, writing down my thoughts, and researching some more. Rhonda, a librarian at Hoover Library, was so helpful! I went in and told her my topic and she was able to give me a ton of information to start with!
While I’m glad that I have officially turned in my paper and that my presentation is over, my life feels a little empty without it. The last two weeks of school are going to be so much easier now that one of my classes is already over. I feel very proud of myself for getting through this task, since it was the longest paper I’ve ever written. It helped that I was able to write on a topic that I was interested in already, because then my topic did not get boring to me. Many people will tell you that Senior Seminar is something to dread, but the satisfaction of a job well-done when you turn it in is a fantastic feeling!