Engaged Learning Fall Symposium celebrates four years

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Editor’s note, Nov. 9, 4:30 p.m.: This story has been updated throughout.

More recycling bins, light bulbs that are better for the environment, and going green across campus. These are some of the topics Nikki Carenza, a junior at Southern Methodist University, discussed in her project presentation at the recent Engaged Learning Fall Symposium Friday, Oct. 30 from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

“It’s something I’ve been passionate about since high school, and with the help of my mentor I was able to see the impact on campus,” said Carenza, a double major in finance and environmental studies.

Engaged Learning at SMU is dedicated to helping students like Carenza take the initiative and go beyond the classroom, turning their areas of interest into reality. Students engage in internships and research projects, and work with people in the community to help fix problems and create new opportunities.

Engaged Learning Fall Symposium Photo credit: Fallon Bock

Mona Alluri, the assistant director of Engaged Learning said that 30 students presented for five minutes each during the Oct. 30 symposium. The students represent five different programs: the Caswell Undergraduate Leadership Fellows, Engaged Learning Fellowship, Maguire Center Public Service Fellowship, McNair Scholars, and the University Honors Richter Research Fellowship.

“The presenters discuss their findings, goals, and what they have achieved over the last two years they have worked on their projects,” Alluri said.

Carenza’s presentation was called “Sustainability on the Hilltop”. She and SMU senior Anna Norkett, who worked on a project helping college-bound high schoolers, represented the Caswell Fellows Program at the symposium.

Carenza and Norkett presented an overview of their topics in the five minutes allowed, then sat down at a red-clothed table in the front of the forum for a panel interview to answer questions.

Carenza discussed the impact her research and practices had to help SMU become more sustainable. Even before receiving the fellowship, Carenza had been working behind the scenes to create a more sustainable campus environment.

“My goal is to implement green strategies at SMU and to get students on campus more involved,” Carenza said.

Castle Leadership Fellows with the Director: Nikki Carenza, Stephanie Howeth and Anna Norkett Photo credit: Fallon Bock

Norkett worked with students from high schools to help facilitate their transition to college. Her presentation, “College Bound Expansion,” promotes a supportive and encouraging environment for students who may not have thought college was possible for them.

“We prepare them academically and how to handle the college process in general,” said Norkett.

Norkett has been in a leadership role working within her project since her freshman year. Now that she is graduating, incorporating other SMU students in leadership positions is important for the continuation of her hard work in the project so other students will continue working with the high school students.

“Both students are passionate about their topics and it helps they started their projects before the fellowship program. I’m just happy it exists to support the student development on campus,” Howeth said.

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