2021 FCAT UGC Student Stories

April 07, 2021
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The FCAT Undergraduate Conference (UGC) is a celebration and exploration of the diverse range of student work produced within FCAT. Students from each of our schools and programs have the opportunity to showcase performances, papers, installations, and displays.

The 2021 FCAT UGC is now over and Communication students presented over 30 presentations covering the British Columbia emergency system, Facebook's digital manipulation, issues with artificial intelligents, and game culture and technology and so much more.

Learn about four Communication students and their FCAT UGC experiences and watch their presentations.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your SFU Communication experience.

I'm in my final year at SFU as a joint English and Communication major. I'm a Filipina international student and have learned so much in my time with the Communication faculty. 

What was your presentation about? What did you want the audience to learn?

My presentation was exploring the ways mainstream news outlets framed opioid overdose epidemics. I wanted audiences to understand what news outlets were essentially putting the blame on the overdose epidemic — for example, common sources attributed were the mindset 'addiction is a disease', lack of infrastructure supporting drug-users, pharmaceutical companies but interestingly enough, not on the drug-users themselves. I also wanted audiences to understand that newspapers (and themselves) need to listen to the voices of drug-users because they deserve to be authorities on their own lives.

How was your UGC experience? How was the virtual conference experience?

My UGC experience was a wonderful way to end my university career! While it felt odd being in a virtual space initially, I really enjoyed hearing dear friends and colleagues present compelling presentations. 

How did you prepare for your presentation? Any tips to future presenters?

I prepared for my presentation by writing out my script first, then slides second. I also prepped by performing the first section of my speech to my partner — definitely recommend to future presenters to not be afraid and perform your speech! Let go of your ego and focus on the thrilling work you're presenting.

What was one other presentation you enjoyed or learned from?

One other presentation I learned more from was a part performance-art, part news station. I asked how the students balanced between providing a platform for alt-right citizens and critiquing their behaviour and learned that by directly showing the reporters turn away and dissuade such people helps journalism rooms maintain a sense of integrity. 

What would you tell other undergraduate students interested in research?

Nurture your curiosity — there is so much to learn about what ever topic you may be interested in. You have the rare opportunity to discover more about this world and have the honor of helping others learn what you have. Lean into that enthusiasm, that curiosity, and let yourself blow other peoples minds. 

Tell me a bit about yourself and your SFU Communication experience.

As a transfer student to SFU, I began my undergrad on a slightly unconventional foot. However, through my last four years here I’ve come to appreciate the way some wrong turns lead me back to the place I grew up. The study of communications itself has impacted me in the most profound ways. I’ve come to look at the word with a more critical eye, understand digital communication within its economic bounds, and see myself within these contexts in a healthier way. Experiencing my adolescence with the influence of social media exposed me to an environment that many of us don’t know much about. Through my experience at SFU, I’ve made strides both academically and personally as I’ve come to accept and understand the impact of growing up in the digital age. Access to this information is very much a privilege, and it’s been a privilege to study here at this institution and learn from such inspiring academics.

What was your presentation about? What did you want the audience to learn?

This case study was conducted in Professor Peter Anderson’s Responding to and Mitigating Crisis class and it explores the relationship between Internet Service Providers and disaster management. In the context of the 2018 Northern California wildfires, we see where private, profit-driven values meet public safety. This speaks to the larger impact of net neutrality legislation, and the necessary role of the internet in responding to and mitigating disaster.

How was your UGC experience? How was the virtual conference experience?

Initially, when I heard of this opportunity, I applied somewhat hesitantly. Public speaking is very much something I shy away from and up until this point, I had never participated in any type of research conference. I was unsure about how a virtual conference would work, but it ended up being a really comfortable middle ground to push myself to try something that scared me, while also being familiar. The conference gave me the space to grow into uncharted waters, and I’m so grateful to have been a part of it.

How did you prepare for your presentation? Any tips to future presenters?

My preparation for this presentation was focused largely on creating a visual story to bring meaning to my words. PowerPoint slides and a compelling story were the key elements of my presentation. Professor Sun-Ha Hong suggested a tip in one of the prep workshop for the conference that I found very helpful, which was to identify one thing you want your audience to learn from this presentation and work backwards to include what information is needed to get to that conclusion. This has been helpful in more than just the one presentation, but in other academic work in other classes too.

What was one other presentation you enjoyed or learned from?

I both enjoyed and learned to push my comfort level. The research had already been conducted in a previous semester, but for me, the challenge was to present it in spite of fear and anxiety. I gained immense confidence in my academic and social abilities. Embracing the SFU community and being in those spaces I’d usually shy away from has left me with a feeling of abundance and pride in my time at SFU.

What would you tell other undergraduate students interested in research?

We all do research, all the time. It may not seem like it sometimes, but the assignments you do, papers you write, and journals you read is all research. We all have the ability to be researchers, and it doesn’t always have to look like you’d expect. This research was conducted, compiled and presented in my bedroom during a global pandemic. Throughout this experience, I’ve largely taken away a feeling of empowerment. Empowered to critically look at institutions of power, speak my perspectives, and spread this privileged knowledge to those outside SFU FCAT.

Tell me a bit about yourself and your SFU Communication experience

Hi, my name is Alesha! I am a fifth-year English and Communication student. I am a coffee enthusiast, who enjoys popular culture. I started my academic career in English and took my first Communication course in my third year. I was drawn in, as I enjoyed critiquing and analyzing media and culture. Communication studies have allowed me to continually question aspects of our society; rather than become a passive consumer.

What was your presentation about? What did you want the audience to learn?

My presentation was about YouTube’s haul videos. In the midst of the pandemic, online sales had skyrocketed and as a result, people were showcasing their purchases online. I chose to question this niche and found clothing hauls utilize the body in order to function as promotional culture. Further, how these videos are an extension of immaterial and aspirational labour as the “hauler” often is not a notable celebrity. I found the motivation behind haul videos is the individuals hope they can someday become a popular content creator and indulge in their lifestyle. I wanted the audience to learn about this popular trend, in hopes they would go on to question how such things have the power to influence one’s own identity and consumption.  

How was your UGC experience? How was the virtual conference experience?

I had a great UGC experience! I enjoyed viewing the diverse set of presentations in both Communication and other departments within FCAT. Even though the conference was held virtually, I still had an interactive experience. By having the audience view my pre-recorded video, I could clarify questions, and actively engage with viewers while the video was playing. I learnt about multiple research topics, and was amazed by the short films showcased.

How did you prepare for your presentation? Any tips to future presenters?

I prepared for my presentation by choosing a few key points from my research essay. I would suggest speaking to a friend about your topic and key points to see how engaging it is. I also recommend finding footage or picture you will use when editing ahead of time, as I found it made the process easier. However, this is all extra and due to the virtual aspect! Overall, I just recommend preparing so you will feel less anxious.

What was one other presentation you enjoyed or learned from?

I enjoyed a lot of presentations! Some that stuck out to me were “All Shook Up Over Tiktok” and a Film called “Purgatory”. The Tiktok app is intriguing to me due to its younger demographic and this presentation reflected on issues of censorship. Further, “Purgatory” was well put together, and although I am not a film major I felt the message within the film to be powerful. Both presentations stuck with me after and motivated me to learn more.

What would you tell other undergraduate students interested in research?

 I would tell other undergraduates students interested in research to explore all the ideas they have. Further, to not undermine themselves and apply to all opportunities - like UGC. Often times it can be daunting to pursue/present a topic not written on prior, but I encourage all undergraduate students to look at it as an opportunity to learn and be unique.

Jordan Eng

Presentation: The Dilemma of AI and Truth Values

Tell me a bit about yourself and your SFU Communication experience.

Communication represents the very stuff I love to talk about. I have always been interested in law and psychology prior to my focus on communication. The thing with communication is that it is very broad and multifaceted. I got to learn much about politics and social life which I had no previous knowledge of knowing the coherency of this faculty to that of many other subjects. I think of communications as the jack of all trades in which I am able to learn a little bit of every subject in one faculty.

What was your presentation about? What did you want the audience to learn?

My presentation was about the dilemma of AI and truth values in relation to the physical world we live in. With an ever-growing and expansive platform of AI moderation would there be bias? The objective of my presentation was to explain the difficulties in moderation and determining something that is unauthentic or even heinous. The semantics of contemporary arts are unique to the interpreter, however, an AI is unable to be consciously aware of its decision.

How was your UGC experience? How was the virtual conference experience?

The overall experience was new to me, I have never done this before. I would most definitely do it again. I expected the unexpected therefore the virtual conference was not a surprise to the current circumstance. I enjoyed the concept and organization of presentations.

How did you prepare for your presentation? Any tips for future presenters?

I initially prepared my recordings and script a couple of days before the presentation. The timing was due to my busy schedule juggling both work and midterms. Unfortunately, the original files were corrupted and I needed to refilm a night prior. My tips for future presenters are to expect the unexpected and work with your schedule. If I would have done this, it would've been much easier to have presented a polished presentation.

What was one other presentation you enjoyed or learned from?

I enjoyed the presentation of "Digital Manipulation: Ideological Contradictions Associated with Facebook's Default Settings by Breyden Chong" as this allowed a different approach to my understanding of my presentation. It allowed me to understand another perspective that allows me to strengthen my argument.

What would you tell other undergraduate students interested in research?

This was a blast, I always hated essays and research. I always thought I was terrible at creating an interesting and thorough argument. The main support I got was from my TA who thought I had some interesting points to make. I was hesitant but I considered it with the help of editing and implications of more information from my TA.