Samirah stands behind the podium in front of a projector to present her project at the All-College Symposium. A panel of students sits on the stage awaiting their turn.
Presenting at the All-College Symposium

It’s been two years since I attended Conn’s first All-College Symposium, where seniors present their integrative learning in the Connections curriculum. At that time, I found it hard to believe that I would someday have a cohesive senior integrative project (SIP) for the Toor Cummings Center for International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA). In a SIP, seniors integrate their major, coursework, research, and internship experience in the form of an honors thesis or an independent study project and then present it at the symposium. It is a big undertaking and as a sophomore, I felt quite overwhelmed thinking that I’d have to have a perfectly finalized idea for my SIP by the time I would present my senior year at the symposium. 

As someone who has now presented at the All-College Symposium and proceeded to change the scope of her project the next day, I can assure you that no senior has their SIP quite finalized. During the symposium, I presented how my independent study primarily critiques two mainstream international relations theories. However, after the symposium, my advisor and I concluded that it was better to focus on a specific segment of my initial research. I know I was not alone. Many of my friends have spent the past year slowly fine-tuning their projects.

The All-College Symposium made me pause and reflect on how far I have come at Conn. With everything that has happened in the past two years, presenting at the symposium wasn’t even on my mind. When the pandemic first started and I went back to Bangladesh in the middle of CISLA’s gateway course, which introduces you to the center and helps you develop your initial SIP idea, the symposium seemed impossibly far away. But the actual day was a great chance to celebrate how far my classmates, friends, and I have come. I saw a plethora of thoughtful projects and I had the opportunity to applaud many presentations.

I felt surreal to be a senior presenting at the symposium for CISLA as I knew there were sophomores who had just been accepted into CISLA in the audience probably feeling just as I had once felt.