MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The classrooms and corridors of McCardell Bicentennial Hall were packed with students, faculty, and staff, and the Great Hall was teeming with intellectual activity all-day long for Middlebury’s 11th annual Spring Student Symposium on April 21, 2017.

An estimated 285 students shared their work via oral presentations, poster sessions, and art exhibitions on the one day of the year when no classes are conducted so all members of the college community, particularly Middlebury’s 2,500 undergraduates, can share in the high caliber of research and creative work accomplished by students.

President Laurie L. Patton opened the symposium in the Great Hall, and remarked that each of the day’s presentations “began with a curious moment” that was nurtured in partnership with Middlebury’s faculty. “That curiosity about an unexplored idea then sparked inquiry, which fueled exploration [and led to] the discovery of the unknown, the disproving of assumptions, the triumph of truth, the joy of the unexpected, and the satisfaction of work well done.”

Patton, a South Asian history, culture, and religion scholar, later immersed herself in the Student Symposium by moderating an oral presentation session titled “Journeys to Buddhism,” during which four students each gave a 20-minute presentation. There was Michaela Maxwell ’17.5 on “Experiencing Womanhood as a Buddhist Nun,” Matthew Blake ’17 on “Muriel Rukeyser’s Journey to Ajanta,” Jerrica Davy ’17 on “Women and Buddhism in Charles Johnson’s Oxherding Tale,” and Jingchen Jiang on “A Path to Heaven: Reinterpreting Two Western Wei Mogao Caves.

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The majority of the activity during Spring Symposium was at Bicentennial Hall, but there also were four well-attended art exhibitions in the Johnson Memorial Building: intaglio prints, advanced drawing, works from the senior independent studio, and oil painting and ceramics “Portraits of Power.”