By: Sarah Ferraro
Hundreds of USC students filled the Russell House ballroom ready to share what they've learned on Friday. But the annual Discovery Day was far from the typical "science fair" type presentation. Students get the chance to speak about any out of classroom experience, including undergraduate research, internships, study abroad trips and more.
Director of Undergraduate Research Julie Morris is the event coordinator. She says he event has changed greatly since she got involved in 2003. The number of poster presentations has increased by 528 percent. They now have to hold multiple sessions to fit all the posters in the Russell House.
Discovery Day also offers students the option to do an oral presentation. Originally Discovery Day was only open to USC-Columbia students, but it has opened its doors to students from all USC campuses from across the state. Morris says it's easy to see why the event has become increasingly popular.
“Everyone loves to talk about things they love to do and Discovery Day gives students the chance to do so," said Morris.
Most presenters are juniors or seniors, but for Morris the most exciting part of the event is seeing the underclassmen who came to figure out their own path in college.
“So the freshmen and sophomores who come in get to see what's available to them," said Morris. "So if they're not sure what they want to get involved with they can talk with students who are- they've already done it.”
Kristen Hendricks is a Fashion Merchandising major at the Columbia campus. She spent a summer in New York City with an internship that was not the typical undergraduate assignment.
“I interned at Kleinfeld two summers ago, which is the bridal store from 'Say Yes to the Dress,' and I got to help them get into the dresses and help decide, like, which one they wanted," said Hendricks.
The store is the subject of a popular show on TLC, which helped draw Discovery Day visitors to view Hendricks' poster. She spent the morning sharing how what she learned in her fashion classes helped her in the real world of fabrics, silhouettes and sizing.
Two of Hendricks' audience were listening for more than just her television experience. Judges were assigned to each category to determine the top one or two presentations for a cash prize. Discovery Day judge Kevin Clarke says they look for more than just a nice poster.
“I want to know what they did, why it's important and what they want to do with it," said Clarke.
The judges were also joined at the event by other USC students, faculty and proud parents. Morris says she anticipates even more presentations and visitors next year.