To the left, posters on slavery and racism. To the right, students discussing time traveling concepts. Everywhere one looked at the quad of the PCC campus, students engaged in various discussions brought on by hundreds of first-year Pathways students.
Over 2,500 first-year Pathways students swarmed the campus quad and the mirror pools area, professionally presenting their research on the book “Kindred” by Octavia E. Butler to the PCC students, teachers, and staff on Thursday, Nov. 17.
The presentation conference, a requirement to pass first-year Pathways student’s College 1 class, is the conclusion of the ¨One Book, One College¨ Pathways program which has been going on annually for six years. “Kindred,” the book featured in this year’s conference, tells the story of a young African-American girl, who is stuck time-traveling back and forth between modern California and pre-civil war Maryland.
Students had a chance to do reading journals – a weekly diary for the reading reflections – alongside with the reading itself before finalizing their group’s research subject on the book. In groups, the students did the research together and gave an oral presentation on their poster in the conference. The best presentation, with thorough research and well-organized poster, would receive an honorable prize from Pathways.
All of the 70 College 1 classes at PCC campus attended the conference, with over 2,300 students counted and about 100 teachers and faculty.
¨Not only [with] the turn-out amount of the attended students, but I am also very happy about the actual research that was done,¨ Carlos ¨Tito¨ Altamirano, one of the event’s coordinators and College 1 teachers, expressed after the event. ¨The book touches several subjects: time travel, post civil-war movements, civil rights, slavery, etc. … And the students did a fantastic job touching different topics, being able to do actual research, peer-reviews and not just Google it.¨
Among the well-researched students and their posters of multiple shapes and sizes, there were also coaches, teachers, and several event’s judges who graded the student projects.
¨It’s less formal than standing in front of the class. The posters are already graded, and for my class, I don’t grade their oral presentations, so there’s no pressure for the students on presenting their information,” ESL teacher Carol Curtis said.
First-time College 1 professor John Davis expressed that his experience with the students and the course material has been ¨amazing.¨ The objective of the conference was to make students feel like they were part of the academic community, and the presentations for other students helped them achieve exactly that.
“Now they will see that they are a part of something much bigger,¨ Davis said.
The shoulder-to-shoulder space between the posters and the crowded participants apparently did not pose that much of a problem among the enthusiastic audience. Although there was a lack of tables set up due to the “underestimation of turnout participants,¨ it was good to see that the student turnout was higher than expected.
“There are so [many] more new students this year … As Pathways keeps growing, we are going to need more space for the students,¨ Davis continued.
Besides the teachers and coordinators of the event, the student’s judge team also played a big part in evaluating the participants work. Most of them are either currently employed in Pathways or former Pathways students.
¨The score is based on the quality of their research, the presentation that they gave us. It should [be] a group thing where everyone is able to sell their product,” second-year Pathways student and student judge,Tiffany Cheng, explained.
Suzan Kwidja, a judge, and a former international Pathways student said that the score is also based on the student’s delivery and their personal confidence.
Yu-Cheng Liu, a first-year Pathways student participant, wished that the choice of the book would have had been based on recent, real-life events.
¨It’s good that we are learning about the past … but maybe [the presentation] should suggest some topics that happen in our world, for example, what do you think about Donald Trump being our president?¨ Liu explained.
Pathways also hosted a staging production later that evening of “Two Pictures in One,” a Harriet Beecher Stowe abolitionist story that directly relates to the book “Kindred” that College 1 students have been doing research on for that last month.
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