Students participating in the Niagara University Opportunity Program’s four-week summer program completed their studies with a poster presentation in the B. Thomas Golisano Center for Integrated Sciences on July 25. The students, all freshmen who will begin classes in the fall, were inspired by the historical research they conducted in assistant professor Dr. Michael Durfee’s class.
Looking at American history from World War II to the present, groups of students presented on topics including the Black Panther Party, the civil rights movement, public housing at the Wendell O. Pruitt Homes and William Igoe Apartments (Pruitt–Igoe) in St. Louis, Mo., and the 13th Amendment.
Jaden Turner and Matalyn Ott, both from Niagara Falls, N.Y., chose Pruitt-Igoe as their topic. Matalyn was interested in what the people who lived there endured, while Jaden was intrigued by the fact that fathers weren’t allowed to live with their families in the complex.
Lerma Halamani from Niagara Falls, Shamaria Burrows from Rochester, N.Y., and Anthony Stevenson from Lockport, N.Y., compared the differences between the Black Panthers and the civil rights movement. “Usually, in American history, you don’t hear about the Black Panther party and how they violently portrayed themselves,” Anthony explained. “You just hear about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand,’” he added, referencing a quote by Abraham Lincoln, and noted that these two, separate efforts worked against each other.
Teaira Clay-Lewis from Buffalo, N.Y., and Jessica Young from Cheektowaga (both pictured at left), explored an unexpected topic: the ways the media influences its audience. Their poster presentation, “According to Your Wallet, You are the Prettiest Girl in the 1940s,” showcased the messages Seventeen magazine published regarding what teenage girls should eat, wear, and aspire to during that decade. Teaira noted that they were interested in the topic because, although the messages might be different (smoking cigarettes vs. vaping as a sign of adulthood) the media still influences young people today.
The Niagara University Opportunity Program is a comprehensive program designed for students who have the potential for and interest in furthering their education but are not admissible under Niagara University's regular admissions criteria. The ultimate goal of the program is to make higher education possible for students who are both academically underprepared and economically disadvantaged. The Niagara University Opportunity Program is funded jointly by the University and the New York State Education Department.