Founders' day goes virtual for second year in a row

By Kate Cuadrado | April 30, 2021 3:08pm

A majority of graduating students presented their capstone projects virtually for the second year in a row.

Media Credit: Ryan Reynolds / The Beacon

This year, Founders' Day looked very different from years past as it turned virtual for the awards ceremony and senior presentations. It took place on April 20 and had four sessions, similar to past year’s schedules. 

Last year, students and faculty had to scramble to make the switch online. This year, they were more prepared for a digital Founder's Day, according to Associate Provost for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement, John Orr. 

The event took place over Zoom, with hyperlinks leading people to the different sessions. As for the posters and capstone presentations, Orr said it took a different approach than normal years, as there were specific times that people would be able to attend posters and capstone presentations over Zoom. 

Senior English major Sophie Downing thought the event ran smoothly despite its virtual format. 

“The day was really nice,” Downing said. “I had a few different events throughout, where I had the Senior Award ceremony in the morning and then I had my capstone right after that.”

Downing presented her capstone project on a panel with two other senior English majors, Katie Wojda and Lucy Mackintosh. 

“We each had about 10 minutes to present them some time for questions,” said Downing. 

Even though the event was virtual, Downing felt celebrated by the English Department after presenting her capstone.

“It was also nice, you know, being able to share this with them,” Downing said. “They were very supportive in return to all three of us, and so that was also nice to kind of cap off the experience.” 

For the virtual aspect of the event, Downing prepared for more than just her capstone as she locked down her skills in Zoom. 

“I did practice my Zoom skills on my parents because I don't share my screen often,” Downing said. “I wanted to make sure it looked okay, so I guess that was definitely a preparation out of the ordinary.” 

Those presenting a poster had to adjust to the platform and time constraints. 

“It was still like a regular speech that you're giving,” Maria Spong, senior psychology major, said. “You know, a lot of practice, make sure you have it down, and also because of our time limits because it was on Zoom, we really had to have it down to under three minutes. So it's really prioritizing what were the findings that you felt were most important for your research. What's the thing that you want to share that's really going to capture everyone's attention, but also reflect all the work you've done?” 

Spong is a part of the Senior Capstone: Applied Projects course, and presented her poster alongside her classmates during the first session of Founder’s Day.  

“I think there were 14 of us presenting the first session, and it's a 15 minute session,” Spong said. “We all had three minutes to go, which is incredibly short to talk about a semester-long project.” 

Spong recognized that this virtual Founders' Day had both pros and cons. 

“It's nice to only have to do it once, I'm not the biggest fan of presenting, but at the same time like it's, you don't really get to talk about what you've been doing,” Spong said. 

Additionally, Orr identified an unexpected advantage that came with Founder’s Day moving online.

“A benefit, weirdly, of this is that family members can attend,” Orr said. “I think that's kind of a nice thing because unless you live in the immediate area or something you don't get to see your child make a presentation at Founders' Day, and this year they can.” 

Downing agreed with this sentiment, as she was able to invite some friends to her online Capstone presentation. 

“I did have quite a few friends come,” Downing said. “And I do think it's had a good capacity in that way, letting people have their loved ones there who maybe couldn't come in a regular time.”

Spong was able to invite people who normally would not be able to make her Founder’s Day poster presentation. 

“My best friend from Colorado who goes to Boulder, she was able to Zoom in and watch everything,” Spong said. “And my aunt who lives in Montana, she came in to watch and it was great. And I had a few people that couldn't come on, they're gonna be making a zoom recording link, so I can send that to them later on for them to watch.”

This year’s virtual setting of Founder’s Day allowed seniors to present their end of the year projects despite the restrictions of the pandemic, in what was hopefully a satisfying culmination to their academic work at University of Portland. 

Kate Cuadrado is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at