Technology, Service Themes Emerge on Senior Projects Day

Each year, Americans experience between 400,000 and 800,000 drug-related injuries.

“People are being injured by the medications that are trying to help them,” said Troy Zuroske ‘15, a senior at Pacific University.

A computer science major, Zuroske thought he could do something to help.

Over the past several months, he has been developing Glass Rx, a Google Glass application designed to help people accurately identify medications and doses by name and appearance. Though his app is still a prototype — Google Glass and other technologies he used in its development and operation are evolving simultaneously — he has the beginnings of a product that he believes could help reduce drug-related injuries.

“I wanted to help people,” said Zuroske, as he presented his development process and app to a classroom full of peers, faculty and other supporters on April 22.

Zuroske’s was among more than 290 presentations, poster sessions, art exhibits, and performances conducted by undergraduate seniors at Pacific this week on the annual Senior Projects Day. A day devoted to exhibiting and celebrating the educational achievements of graduating students, Senior Projects Day is when Pacific’s mission truly comes alive in student work. They demonstrate the connections they have made through a liberal arts education; they unveil service and civic engagement projects that preview the impact they will have on their world. They show how they have been inspired to “think, care, create, and pursue justice in our world,” as the university’s mission says.

Several students in 2015 explored the impact and power of new media and technology.

Tyler Watkins ’15, a sociology major, explored how Facebook can be a social control in society — how people limit their self-expression and shape their online identities to the least controversial version of themselves to please an ever-watching collection of varied “friends.”

Victoria Hampton ’15, a journalism major, investigated the future of small, independent newspapers, by examining and interviewing leaders at several publications throughout the Northwest.

Summer Miranda ‘15 and Lisa Levang ‘15, applied science and exercise science majors, respectively, studied the influence on Pinterest on health behaviors, trying to discover if “pinning” exercise and diet samples would motivate people to healthier behavior. Their study found no effect, but they had lots of suggestions for broader study and hope for the future.

“We still believe we can use technology for a positive outcome,” they reported.

The desire to do good and make a difference was prevalent throughout seniors’ work.

Mabel Flores ’15, an environmental biology major, wrote and proposed an assistance animal policy for Pacific, hoping to make it easier for students to bring support animals to campus to mitigate disabilities and health conditions.

Brian Mejia ’15, a sustainable design major, studied Dignity Village, a community of tiny houses for the homeless in Portland, and developed a proposal and budget to create a similar community in Beaverton, home to Washington County’s largest number of homeless individuals and no shelters.

Others sought to use their knowledge, passions and experiences to tell stories, start conversations and improve relationships in the world.

Taylor Gillespie ’15, another sociology major, examined race and racialization of multicultural individuals in a predominantly white university setting — ultimately suggesting that while she had no concrete solutions to covert racism, more open conversation is the next step.

Stephanie Abraham ’15, a studio art major, interviewed and photographed people on a local bus route, while fellow studio art major Catherine Cooper ’15 photographed local firefighters to contrast public perception and reality about firefighters and their jobs.

Kailea Saplan ’15, a theatre major, meanwhile, wrote a play juxtaposing the experiences of two women studying at Pacific in 1964 and 2014 — exploring the similarities, differences and underlying human condition while pulling together the skills she’d learned throughout her multidisciplinary studies.

The process, she said, was eye-opening.

“The more I learn, the less I know,” she said. “It’s terrifying … and exhilarating.”

Press release

Thursday, April 23, 2015