The Department of English, Languages, and Mass Communications at Alcorn State University recently hosted its first English Undergraduate Conference Thursday, April 13. Held in the Dumas Hall Auditorium, the event was centered around the theme of multicultural perspectives, featuring insightful discussions by esteemed educators and current students.
The conference coordinator, Dr. Heather Bailey, an assistant professor in English, aimed to bring together voices from different departments, creating a platform for students to amplify their voices and share their perspectives.
“Multicultural identities open up new pathways for thinking and a more tolerant nuance, and the holistic way is a relevant framework for this event. The participants and panels explored multicultural identities, modes of thinking, and various texts. This conference will investigate how we as students and educators at Alcorn can continue cultivating and celebrating hybrid, pluralistic, and intersecting identities within our classrooms,” said Bailey.
The event provided undergraduate students with valuable insight into the proceedings of future graduate conferences and important information about multicultural perspectives.
“I am always further educated when I attend meetings such as these. I want to thank all faculty and staff who helped organize this event. I also commend them for their support and encouragement. We wanted to ensure everyone was equally represented, from freshmen to seniors. This conference was useful and should continue as the years go on,” said Dr. Babu Patlolla, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.
Each panel discussed topics such as how fostering multicultural academic spaces is significant, critiques of literature, and personal interpretations of famous literature in their works.
“This was beneficial for instructors and students because we focused on empowering our students in the classroom. This was especially great for those who are students so they can hear the theories and rationale that goes behind faculty routines within the classroom. It also gave them a voice to recommend what they need and want out of class and their professors while giving them a chance to find self-awareness,” said Bailey.
By attending and participating in this event, students were able to gain valuable knowledge while also showcasing their own expertise.
“I feel my knowledge was broadened by having such a wide range of participants from different majors, ages, and backgrounds. I got to see their opinions on things from a different aspect and how discography can affect people’s points of view. I believe the presentations gave insight into examples of first-hand colonization and the effects of certain ideologies on Black communities,” said Heaven Thomas, a student speaker.
After each panel concluded their presentations, audience members were allowed to ask questions and engage in deeper conversations to broaden the experience.
“I believe the feedback provided by those who attended allowed each participant to elaborate more on the topics analyzed. Being able to answer questions to help others understand and relate made this experience even more meaningful,” said Keandrea Brown, a student speaker.
“It also gave students a chance to show how knowledgeable and seriously our ideas are taken by faculty while also getting insight from those who have made it to where we want to be in life,” said Audreanna Elliott, student speaker.
The positive feedback received from attendees who used the platform to voice their opinions has inspired hope that this conference will become an annual experience for Alcorn students, faculty, and staff.
“This was the first of hopefully many more conferences to come. Being a part of these departments, you must learn how to attend professional conferences while respectfully presenting yourself. The conference, this year, served as an outlet for those who are not usually given a voice to express themselves and their concerns,” said Dr. Anne-Marie Obilade, interim chair/associate professor of English.