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Students score big at UW System research symposium

Three University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students were among about a dozen presenters at the UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity to take top honors April 24 at UW-Milwaukee.

Tristen Back, social work major from Nekoosa, Jessica Valdespino, psychology major from Waukesha, and Melady Vue, social work major from Elk Mound, won a ribbon for outstanding presentation for their oral session titled "Campus Racial Climate." The 14th annual symposium featured about 700 presentations from students from across the UW System. About 30 UW-Eau Claire students were among the participants giving poster, oral, visual and performance presentations. 

The session presented by Back, Valdespino and Vue was a result of research conducted under the mentorship of Dr. Elena Izaksonas, UW-Eau Claire assistant professor of social work. The project, which involved interviews and focus groups, compared the perceptions of white students with those of students of color on the racial climate at UW-Eau Claire.

"The study represents an important contribution to campus racial climate research," Izaksonas said. "The research is compelling because it gives meaning to the lived experience of students of color who find themselves in a numerical minority and face pressured encounters with issues of race large and small on a daily basis. The research extends beyond our campus and aims to stimulate a wider national conversation on the subject. I feel very proud of our team." 

"(The 'Campus Racial Climate') session had the largest audience I encountered, and their presentation was followed by lively discussion and compliments from the audience and the judges for their work on an important and challenging subject," said Karen Havholm, assistant vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs at UW-Eau Claire.

For more information about faculty-student research at UW-Eau Claire, contact Karen Havholm at 715-836-3405 or havholkg@uwec.edu.

Photo caption: UW-Eau Claire students, from left, Tristen Back, Melady Vue and Jessica Valdespino were among presenters at the UW System Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity to take top honors April 24 at UW-Milwaukee.