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The Caldwell Research and Creative Arts Day (CRaCAD) is always a special event highlighting projects by faculty and students.  But this year, to many of the campus community presenting, it meant so much more to be back in person displaying their work.  . 

Nearly 140 projects across all academic disciplines were on display in the Student Center gym April 27. 

“It does feel academically validating,” said senior Prasanni Shrestha, who presented on “Emotional Intelligence for Middle Schoolers: An Integrative Project for Nepal.” It is “a day of intellectuals coming together celebrating education,” said the psychology major, who has a minor in biology and chemistry.

Senior Christopher Peltyszyn, a political science major, has an interest in American presidents, which is why he decided to focus his outcomes project on the question “Is It Time for America to Reevaluate Jimmy Carter?” “It feels good to see all the hard work come together,” said Peltyszyn.  

Peter Detrez, a senior accounting major with a pre-law minor, focused his honors project on “Challenges to Reentry: Post-Incarceration Employment Projects.” Normally “not a person out for attention,” Detrez said he realized that presenting his work gave him confidence “so I can do it next time.” He is continuing his studies in Caldwell’s MBA program and plans to work first for a Big Four public firm and then down the road for the FBI.   

Nursing students Marshal Oyama, Oluchukwu Nwokelo, Leslie Tenemaza, Kimberly Angulo and Bryanna Delgada presented on “The Reciprocal Effects of Understaffing and Nursing Attrition on Nurses’ Mental Health and Patient Safety.” Angulo said the students found through their research that this was “definitely a topic of interest” to people. Nwokelo learned that future nurses have different options. “We can do something else other than work in a hospital.” Oyama said the research showed the need to help nurses faced with understaffing and to express concerns about workloads. Tenemaza agreed, saying it is very important for future nurses to watch out for their mental health.  

Sophomore biology major Panna Lukacs focused her work on the topic “Beres Drops Show Anticancer Properties Against Breast Cancer Cells.” It was her first time at the in-person conference and she was a little nervous but excited. “I feel like I practiced … to see other people’s work inspires me.” 

Senior Hrishita Badu said the day had always been one of her favorite events on campus. Her topic, “China’s Interest in Post-Withdrawal Afghanistan,” intrigued her as a political science major and a native of Nepal. “CRaCAD gives you experience to help you present at conferences.  It will be helpful in my future career,” said Badu, who will be attending graduate school at the University of Chicago to study international relations. After her junior year project, “An Approach to Study Nepal-India Border Dispute through Indian Foreign Policy,” she was invited to present at the Georgia Political Science Association conference in Savannah, Georgia.

The Caldwell University chorale opened the ceremony singing “A Prayer for Ukraine” in Ukrainian.   

Caldwell University President Matthew Whelan, Ed.D., provided opening remarks, applauding the faculty, staff  and students for their hard work and creativity. “There is probably no more powerful way … to use your education than to create new knowledge.” Pointing out the challenges in today’s world, he said, “You are the people who, through your work, are going to help us look at some of those problems and look at the solutions for some of those problems in different ways, in new ways, in ways that you are encouraged to find right here on our campus at Caldwell University.” He encouraged participants to consider how their work can improve the lives of others “whether through art, innovation or invention.” He highlighted some of the students and alumni who attributed their research and the critical thinking skills they developed at Caldwell to their success in the workplace and to their acceptance at stellar graduate schools.  

Dr. Peter Ubertaccio, vice president for academic affairs, commended the faculty members who worked with students on their projects. “What happens in the classroom is but one part of their vocation. They also spend many hours prepping, accessing, mentoring and guiding students and pursuing their own scholarship.” He pointed to Sister Rita Margaret Chambers, who, during the commemoration of Caldwell College’s 50th anniversary, wrote, “Mother Joseph Dunn, founder, her life and founding of the college proved an old adage that good things don’t just happen. They are usually the result of hard work, quality leadership, vision and an ability, in this case of faith in God, and a willingness to go the extra mile.” Ubertaccio said that as others consider and learn from the research projects of undergraduate and graduate students, “we will do well to remember that today they went the extra mile.” He said the students can take comfort in the knowledge that “going the extra mile will have an extraordinary impact on your future learning.” 

The keynote speaker  was Dr. Niamh O’Hara, CEO of Biotia Inc. who spoke about her journey from biology student to entrepreneur, while exploring the microbiome of everywhere from the subway station to the international space station, identifying and quantifying the invisible world around humans. 

Biology majors Samuel Annan and Reeya Callychurn found O’Hara to be passionate about her field and ready to answer all their questions. “We learned new information about genomics and sequencing,” Callychurn said. Annan said she certainly “knew her field” and could explain her passion for it even to people with no background knowledge.