The Festival of Excellence is an annual one-day event to celebrate scholarship in all disciplines and is a unique opportunity for SUU students, professors and staff to present and share the projects and research they have dedicated their time to. Quite simply, it is a chance for students to show off their work. It is also a day off from regular classes, and it looks really good on a resume – what’s not to like?
I get that some students are turned off because of the tie-in to “experiential learning” which most people only regard as a reference to the EDGE program, but I don’t agree. I mean, I’m applying to graduate programs next year and I’m jumping at any opportunity to make me look better on paper. In all honesty, the Festival of Excellence is a fairly impressive title and the people in charge of academia like to see students putting themselves out there.
The idea of experiential education is that students don’t just learn in a classroom. Their education doesn’t solely consist of listening to someone with a couple extra letters after their name that imply their expertise talk on and on about that one subject they know really well. It means that they’ve actually done something to learn.
It is common knowledge that most jobs look for real-world experience when they’re hiring, even many entry-level jobs want to see that the applicant has previous professional experience of some kind, and in theory that is what experiential learning does. While the EDGE project might not always hit the mark because it is still stuck in the red tape, the Festival of Excellence embodies the ideals of learning from experience.
Every job from an engineer, to doctor, to a teacher will require standing up and presenting ideas, often ones that the individual will have worked on and is personally invested in. By fully investing in education now, and that doesn’t just mean all the money we’re shelling out for the opportunity to attend school here, we will be more prepared and better suited for our future careers.
What it boils down to, is that the Festival of Excellence is actually very good for students. As President Scott Wyatt said, “it is the core of what we should be doing.” There is nothing that has better prepared me for my future as a teacher than getting up in front of people and sharing my passions and ideas. I’ve learned a lot from presenting at the Festival of Excellence and it opened up some new opportunities for me as well.
The Festival of Excellence is a unique thing that our university does in the name of progress and professional development. Personally, I appreciated the chance to get outside of the classroom for a day and not only share what I’ve worked on, but take the opportunity to see what my peers are doing. The more we learn now and the more versatile learners we are, the brighter the future will be, and opportunities like the Festival of Excellence will only help to enhance the light ahead.
Alexis J. Taylor
Photo Courtesy of the Festival of Excellence