Exploring Liberal Arts

Oct 05, 2021

Students at Cal U and local high schools attend the annual Liberal Arts Festival.

  • - Children from the Rutledge Institute preschool enjoy the festival.

  • - California Area High School Spanish teacher Haley Bashada McLaughlin.

  • - Cal U students Samantha Thompson (left) and Noah Kendall.

  • - Cal U first-year students Brant Garris (left) and Amanda Gillen-Ford.

Cal U students and approximately 200 students from area high schools mingled at the Convocation Center on Oct. 5 during the University’s annual Liberal Arts Festival: A Celebration of Art and Culture.

“We want to expose our Cal U family and the community to the connection between art and culture and how interdisciplinary college should be,” said Dr. Andrea Cencich, an assistant professor of Spanish and event organizer.

Cal U’s liberal arts offerings include programs in art, history and international studies, jurisprudence, languages, political science, sociology, art history, communication studies, English, graphic design, music, philosophy, theater, criminal justice and psychology.

Many of those disciplines were represented at the festival.

Haley Bashada McLaughlin, a teacher in the California Area School District and a graduate of Cal U, brought students from her upper-level Spanish classes.

“It’s a wonderful cultural opportunity right in our area,” she said. “It’s a fun day for the students.”

At the Art of Kanji Writing table, Cal U juniors Noah Kendall and Samantha Thompson, both childhood education majors, practiced the skill under the direction of artist Yoko.

“We can definitely implement some of these activities in our classes,” Kendall said. “And as Rainbow Alliance officers, we want to bring more cultural experiences to Cal U and to our community.”

“If we want to be seen as a club, we have to explore other cultures,” Thompson added.

Cal U first-year students Bryant Garris, a fine arts major, and Amanda Gillen-Ford, an anthropology major, gave fencing displays at the festival as members of the Medieval and Renaissance Club.

“I always wanted to try it, and I love the medieval time period, so I got involved with the club right away,” said Garris.

As some students demonstrated the skills they have learned, others explored new interests.

“The festival is ideal for students who don’t know what their majors should be,” said Dr. Kristen Majocha, dean of the College of Education and Liberal Arts.

“It allows them to get a hands-on connection between what they think they want to do and what they actually want to do. They have an opportunity to meet people within those programs, to form relationships and to get answers to questions that you can’t always get with a blanket internet search.”