Students present research on social issues
Political science capstone presenters
Political science capstone presenters relax with Dr. Markus Smith, political science professor, after presenting their research and data to faculty, staff, friends and family. For some, this was the final project before graduating. Erika Fierro/Pioneer

Ten OCCC student researchers presented their findings about addiction, the justice system and a wide range of other issues with supportive data to a college union filled with attendees during the Eighth Annual Scope and Methods of Political Science Capstone Presentations at the end of the spring semester.

Dr. Markus Smith, political science professor, moderated as students and family members asked the presenters questions about their semester-long research project findings and the data of each political issue. Each student’s presentation was five to seven minutes long.

Faculty, specifically professors from the Social Sciences division also challenged the students with questions.

Topics ranged from addiction epidemic, the constitutionality of lengthy nonviolent offenders, under representation of women in U.S. government and others.

The presentation marked the eighth year OCCC students in the capstone class have shared their findings with the college community.  

The capstone course is a requirement for political science majors to graduate from OCCC.

“When I created this course back in 2008, my idea was for the department to have a capstone class, and more importantly to have these guys show off their research and their presentations,” said Smith.

Students said they were affected personally by the research project. “It has made me want to run for (political) office,” Destiny Kuykendall, outgoing OCCC political science graduate, said.

Kuykendall discussed the lack of equal representation of women in government, specifically in the U.S. She explained possible reasons why women do not seek political office positions, one being motivation.

Also presenting was Madison Robbins, outgoing graduate with an associate’s in arts degree in political science pre-law. Her research project about child abuse was was both educational and emotional, she said.

“Child abuse is an issue that has always been close to my heart, and so I just wanted more people to be more aware about it, and I think it’s something that needs to be discussed,” Robbins said.

“From this experience I have realized the importance of research, the importance of getting involved, and the importance of education itself,” she said.

Audience members questioned Robbins on whether offenders should be tried on a federal level as opposed to continuing to allow local and state courts to prosecute and sentence.

Robbins said the issue should be discussed on all levels and more needs to be done to protect children from any type of abuse.

2016 graduate Leonora LaVictoire, political science, discussed possible reasons why black males in community college have lower graduation rates compared to white males.

She said she surveyed black males asking them what resources should be offered to help them.

Other topics presented included the rape culture in American society presented by Erica Burwell, capitalism and poverty presented by Monica Gordon, violations of the Sixth Amendment presented by Taylor Ancik, and the Supreme Court presented by Sam Knight.

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