UF students and staff face the ups and downs of hosting SSC Day virtually

By: Lauren Wolters


Previous SSC Days were held in person. Last year’s was completely asynchronous, and this year’s SSC Day incorporated a little of both strategies

Normally, the Symposium for Scholarship and Creativity (SSC Day) is a full day event held face-to-face with sessions taking place all over campus—Winebrenner, Old Main, CBSL, Davis Street building, and posters in Cory Gym. However, COVID-19 forced UF to be more creative with its format.

The day began with the University Awards Ceremony followed by the specific College Awards. In the afternoon students could listen to live oral presentations and poster presentations by their fellow UF students.

Last year everything for SSC was recorded. UF classes shifted to online two weeks before SSC Day, so there was not much time to prepare anything for the event.

Darin Fields. Credit: University of Findlay.

“This year we wanted to try as much as possible to have some live feeling for the event, allowing presenters to take questions, and feel as if they were actually presenting at a conference,” Darin Fields, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, said. “To that end, we held live Zoom sessions for the oral presentations and the poster sessions, where interactions are most common.”

According to Fields there were 29 oral presentations and 67 posters this year. Fields said that usually there are 50 to 60 oral presentations and over 100 posters.

“In the oral presentation sessions, the attendance seemed close to normal, 15-20 per session,” Fields said. “It varies widely. The attendance at the poster sessions was lighter, so we did see lighter turnout because it was virtual.”

“Many of our SSC presentations are also presentations that students deliver at regional and national conferences,” Fields said.

One of this year’s poster presenters was Victoria Ayoola, a pharmacy student at UF. She shared her previous experience with SSC Day.

Victoria Ayoola. Credit: Student National Pharmaceutical Association.

“I have always been encouraged to present service abroad experiences such as my trips with Global Village to Trinidad/Tobago and Mexico,” Ayoola said. “I have also presented the Cleveland Alternative Spring Break at SSC and Oilers Exploring Beyond the Arch, as well as the Pursuing Cultural Humility program.”

This year Ayoola presented on the effects of student leadership during difficult times. Her poster focused on burnout, imposter syndrome, compassion fatigue, and compassion satisfaction. She also presented a group research project with her peers called, “Exploration of Ohio Infant Mortality Exploration of Infant Mortality Rates in Ohio: An Extrapolation by County.”

Ayoola explained some of the ideas behind her poster.

“The pandemic might have provided unique opportunities for redefining, stretching, and transformation in leaders,” Ayoola said. “Such leaders will now always have a readily available answer to questions such as ‘describe a time when you overcame a challenge.’”

A lot of work goes into SSC Day not only for the student presenters but also for the staff responsible for hosting it.

“We start planning SSC in the fall–around October,” Fields said. “We have been doing SSC for many, many years, and the live conference day is a well-organized event.  Planning the virtual conference was definitely more work and more stressful.”

Fields explained the process students undergo to be a presenter at SSC Day.

“When we put out the call for proposals to students, they simply have to follow the link and provide an abstract for their project and who their sponsor for the project is,” Fields said. “We have not reached a capacity point where we have had to deny presentations, but we do rely on the sponsors to determine if a presentation is ready for SSC or not.”

Ayoola explained why presenting at SSC Day is beneficial to students.

“Presenting on SSC Day is a great way to sharpen our presentation skills,” Ayoola said. “This year, SSC was an opportunity for me to reflect. I actually ended up transforming my reflection into a charge to my fellow future health professionals, current health professionals, and UF community members. Presenting at SSC allowed me to not only share new information but also gain new information.”

“Overall, I think the day was a success, but I really hope that next year we can do it in person. That is a lot more fun,” Fields said.

“I thoroughly enjoyed SSC Day poster presentations,” Ayoola said. “It really was a sight to see when we were able to attend in person. It is inspiring to see all the amazing things my fellow peers are doing.” 

Despite this preference to the in-person format, there are some pros to holding SSC Day virtually.

“One thing that I will always appreciate about having a virtual format is the fact that all of the posters and all of the videos put together to present awards will be archived,” Ayoola said. “We can always come back to it for our viewing pleasure, unlike previous years, we did not really have that.”

Featured photo: University of Findlay LinkedIn.

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