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  • Hanna Aggen

A Spotlight of Scholars at SPARC

Hanna Aggen

On April 17 and 18, the Mount had its 2024 SPARC festival. SPARC is an event that focuses on the academic side of our university. During these two days, more than 150 total speakers presented on many different topics. These topics ranged from pig heart transplants to the stigma surrounding Title IX on campus. 

The talks varied from our Keynote presentation by Dr. Bartley P. Griffith to honors presentations and senior projects. The Keynote presentation was titled “Say Yes to a Pig Heart” as Griffith is the first successful person to use a pig heart in a heart transplant.

In his presentation, he took the time to explain the grueling process of genetically modifying a pig’s heart so that it would work as a replacement for a human heart. He then told the stories of his two patients who were willing to “say yes” to a pig heart. In the end, neither of the transplants lasted longer than 40 days, but there is a lot of hope for the future. 

Following the Keynote presentation there was a senior art exhibition, in which many of the senior art majors on campus showcased their senior projects. The rest of the evening was jam-packed with the first honors project sessions as well as the first sessions of lightning talks. The first night of SPARC ended with a performance of Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas”. On the 18th, all classes university-wide were canceled to focus on the second day of the festival. 

The day started with more honors presentations and lightning talks, as well as a panel presentation and poster sessions. Around noon, the 2024 edition of “Lighted Corners” was presented. 

The rest of the day was filled with more presentations by our students, and the honored faculty address, given by Dr. Rika Dunlap. 

Dunlap spoke on “Zen Enlightenment and Non-thinking”. She explained a lot of the philosophy behind Buddhism, and the idea of meditation. The festival continued with the final few sessions of honors presentations and lightning talks, ending with a theatrical presentation of “An Iliad.”

Seth Garbanzos (C’25) stated, “SPARC is the time of year students get to demonstrate their academic prowess in the forms of presentations, talks, and projects. It shines a light on the arts and the sciences.” 

The festival is important to those around campus. This is because many students look forward to SPARC to show their academic achievements. 

It is a time in which the academic side of the Mount is shown in a bigger light. Students no matter their graduating year can feature their work. Seniors specifically look forward to the festival to show their hard work over the past four years. Students, faculty and staff who attend the festival get to experience the wide range of ideas and projects from the students.  

Kelly Blanco


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