New program invites students to showcase their best academic work


A popular place for speakers, symposiums, and presentations, the Gentile Gallery in the J.C. Williams center will now host the program GRACE to showcase the best work produced by the university’s own.

The “Gallery of Artistry, Research, and Community Engagement,” abbreviated GRACE, will allow visitors to familiarize themselves with top works in a variety of fields, submitted by students, faculty and staff of Franciscan University. This showcase of the best art, research and community projects that the university offers will be brought in on April 7 of this semester.

The opportunity will be “like going to a museum … as you listen to presentations, view posters, view art, and you move to the next display,” said Katherine E. “Kaybeth” Calabria, who holds a doctorate in education with a specialization in severe disabilities. 

“You can, in a very short period of time, be engaged in many different fields with many different kinds of talents,” said Calabria.

Students, too, may engage in “explaining and showing” their work, said Calabria. This opportunity to “engage in this type of project” proves beneficial when students begin submitting applications to graduate school.

The series of presentations, set to last from morning until 4:30 p.m., allows students an unprecedented closeness to academic research of all levels.

“Often, the professors mentor students as they do research or creative projects. This is a way to show the university community the work of the students and the professors,” said Calabria.

Calabria, alongside Regina Boerio, who holds a doctorate in counseling psychology, are responsible for the project in its entirety. They have employed the help of the university Marketing and Communications Department to formulate event posters, but otherwise will oversee the showcase from start to finish.

“We’ve seen this from websites, we’ve seen our children get involved, and we thought this is something that really needs to be done at Franciscan,” said Calabria, citing an informal conversation with Boerio in late August as the initial impetus behind the event.

“(Boerio) has wanted to do this for years,” said Calabria. “We started talking about it, and said ‘let’s do it.’”

Calabria said the showcase has the full support of the Education Department, as well as Academic Affairs, despite their independence from event logistics.

Although the exhibit will be judged by informed volunteers from the local community and will award cash prizes, Calabria hopes the showcase results in a more meaningful end.

“We hope to gain experience,” Calabria said. “Our goal is to make sure that everyone is included in some way, whether that’s by poster or presentation.”

The benefits of submitting work in such an event are multifold, said Calabria. Participants will “grow intellectually, as people ask questions about your research, art, or community engagement.”

Calabria said the event is also an opportunity to “feel well-justified pride in your accomplishments, and to receive accolades from your peers.”

Deeper still is the religious facet of such an event.

“This is the Catholic intellectual aesthetic and service tradition that we are participating in,” Calabria said, given the inevitable fellowship to follow the event.

Calabria and Boerio invite all of campus to partake in an intellectual, communal, and spiritual experience: GRACE, a presentation of the best work the university can procure. Applications are available online, and the submission process is simple and straightforward. Calabria stressed that those not submitting work should attend “to make their friends feel special, and to acknowledge their work.”

Calabria may not know exactly what to expect come April, but were she to compose an article on GRACE, she said she knows exactly how she would conclude. “Dr. Boerio and Dr. Calabria are taking a chance,” she said, speaking in third person. “They want you to take a chance too.”

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