OWHL Scholars Symposium: Collection of Student Presentations and Projects

The new Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) Scholars Program, made up of a cohort of nine students, presented their year-long projects during the OWHL Scholars Symposium. Stationed in different spaces of the library, students presented on a wide range of topics including pandemics, mental and physical health, and usage of Chinglish and Konglish, utilizing mediums such as essays, scrapbooking, documentary, and art on May 17. 

Scholars completed five components throughout their research project, consisting of an annotated bibliography, a final product proposal, a final product, a five-page reflective essay, and a presentation. Intended to give students unique exposure to the library’s collections and resources, as described on the OWHL Scholars website, students were encouraged to build on their interests and develop a multi-faceted skillset. 

“The Oliver Wendell Holmes Library (OWHL) Scholars Program provides students with the opportunity to have an intensive, interdisciplinary, and fun research experience using the library’s resources and collections. Mentored by a member of the library team, the scholar will develop an interdisciplinary project that will enhance their library knowledge and skills while contributing to the growing student scholarship and academic conversation at Phillips Academy,” according to the OWHL Scholars website.

The 2023-2024 group started meeting in the fall and continued their projects until the cumulative presentation in the spring. Camille Torres Hoven, Director of the OWHL and one of the main organizers for the program, recalled her initial motivation to start the OWHL Scholars program, noting how the program differed from other student research opportunities on campus. 

“I saw the CaMD Scholars program, the Brace [Scholars Program], and the Sustainability [Scholars Program], and I thought there was a hole for something like this which could nicely fit into the library… I thought it would be cool to do something that wasn’t just papers. Scholarships can look different for everybody, and some people don’t want to write another thirty page paper. There are different ways to show how your brain works, and the ideas that you have,” said Torres-Hoven. 

Georgianna Harpole ’25, one of the inaugural OWHL Scholars, investigated deep fakes through her project. She reflected on her topic’s unique and emerging nature, affecting her paper to change often throughout the research process with more current news and updates. 

“I’ve never written a paper this current before. Deep fakes, the first one was published in 2017, and now they’re getting more attention than news in part because [Artificial Intelligence] is getting more attention. There’s so much attention on this, which means there’s so much more information coming out, there’s so many more news articles about it, and instances where these circumstances are popping up in the wild. It was like instead of trying to find primary sources, the primary sources were just in progress,” said Harpole. 

Keren Song ’26, who researched Confucian traditions and modern realities, commented on the challenges that came with the process of preparing for her presentation. Song highlighted how the experience of presenting also introduced her to new perspectives she had not previously considered.

“The most challenging part was preparing for the presentation. I had written more than thirty pages for my final product, which was in creative nonfiction format, so reducing such text that I had poured so much effort into down to its bare core was heartbreaking… I think [the presentation] went great. My favorite part was the Q&A that followed my presentation. People asked me questions that I had never even thought of, though I had previously thought I knew my project the best,” Song wrote in an email to The Phillipian. 

Harpole also reflected on the importance of conciseness throughout the research process, especially while consolidating large amounts of content for an audience. She spoke on how a challenge for herself was breaking down the entire project into a short presentation, but stressed its importance in the process of presenting research.

“Specificity is always good… I think you have to consider, especially with the OWHL Scholars, it’s not just a paper for a class, it’s something where you’re trying to share information really with people. That means people have to be able to digest it, so you need to have a clear argument. It has to be something that can be relayed to people,” said Harpole. 

Because of the program’s demands through the school year, the next OWHL Scholar Program has been pushed to be started during the summer, similar to other programs on campus. Torres-Hoven noted that this shift in the future included both advantages and disadvantages. 

“We had such a good cohort because we met all throughout the year as a group even though we started slow… It was so hard, and I felt so much pressure on all those students to complete an extra assignment while they were trying to do everything else, especially during finals. We are actually going this summer and line up with the CAMD and Brace Scholars this year and streamline this process more,” said Torres Hoven. 

Song expressed her main takeaway from the program, and also offered a piece of advice to future OWHL Scholars regarding the process of picking a topic. She highlighted the enjoyment she had from picking a topic that personally connected to her. 

“Don’t be afraid to question your reality. It’s easy to stick to topics that are not directly relevant to your life, but I would like for future OWHL Scholars to know that it’s okay to get personal. The uncomfortable familiarity will often lead you to unique answers,” Song wrote in an email to The Phillipian.