Capstone ExperienceGAMBIER, Ohio (April 18, 2007) It can take the form of an art exhibit, a documentary, a slide show, a play, or something else entirely. It involves diligent preparation and is supremely rewarding in the end. It's the senior exercise, a rite of passage that's quintessentially Kenyon.
A requirement for completion of the Kenyon degree, the senior exercise (known informally as "comps") gives students the chance to produce scholarly or creative work through self-designed projects. As the capstone of the Kenyon experience, the exercise draws together four years of education, involves close interaction between students and faculty, and encourages students to grow personally and intellectually. It also allows students to explore their passions in a way that is creative and fun.
"The senior exercise," says Chris Renaud, associate director of admissions, "illustrates the amazing work our students do as undergraduates, in concert with their faculty mentors, using the magnificent facilities we are fortunate to have at Kenyon. Students are learning by doing, and learning is fun at Kenyon."
That's the experience of Annie Lambla, Class of 2007, who has just completed the senior exercise in museum studies, her self-designed major. "I love the passion that each person who graduates from Kenyon has for some often-obscure subject they studied for their comps," she says. Lambla would gladly spend the next few hours discussing the artistic, historical, and sociological relevance of her own passion: subway systems. As her senior exercise, Lambla designed a museum exhibit examining the subway as a site of social interaction and presented a 3D digital model of the exhibit to an audience in a space that "simulated the physical experience of the subway." She developed a catalog to accompany the exhibit, detailing her academic influences and design process and reflecting three years of interdisciplinary work, including a year of study abroad in Paris.
The digital design, exhibit installation, and participant observation skills Lambla acquired in completion of this project will aid her in the future, but Lambla remains focused on the cumulative impact of a Kenyon education: "My senior project allowed me to connect what I had learned in my first years at Kenyon-how to read, write, and think critically and creatively-with what I learned coming back from a year abroad in a way that continues to inspire me to question what I read and what I am taught."