Manchester University
Oak Leaves

November 30, 2018

FYS Students Present Research on Topics Related to Death

Kaleigh Gabriel


Students of Professor Gilliar’s Death and Other Endings Seminar held an expert research gala on Thursday, November 15, to present research topics ranging from PTSD to opioid addiction.

The otherwise somber night began with indulging comfort, as the group provided warm comfort foods for the audience to lighten the gloomy night to follow. The night soon began, first with a presentation from Professor Gilliar to fill in for first-year Justin Ahlgrain who was in Atlanta for SMITE Gaming World Championships.

Student presentations followed after and covered a variety of topics including PTSD, concussions in sports, the drive and thoughts of serial killers, suicide and the process of death itself. One of the most notable presentations was from first year Chandler-Judd. Judd’s presentation focused on suicide, but specifically the suicide of young children aged 5 to 12.

Judd’s presentation also worked to pay respects to young Gabriel Taye, an 8-year-old boy from Cincinnati, Ohio, who committed suicide in 2017. Judd said he chose this topic to bring adequate attention to the issue of suicide in the nation.

“I find it shocking that we only hear about teen suicides, yet there are so many young children who also take their lives that are hardly considered,” said Judd.

Judd initially came across the story while doing his preliminary research on suicide in America’s youth but was so shocked in reading Taye’s story that he soon knew he had to focus on a younger demographic than what is usually highlighted in the media.

While the Death and Other Endings course itself has been very dark and heavy on the souls, many students agree that the course has helped them in a way. Student John Gallatin said that while the course has been heavy, it has made him comfortable with such an inevitable topic. “While I’ve always had an understanding of the concept of death, this class has allowed me to embrace death and focus on more important things,” Gallatin said.

Fellow first-year Andrew Mild has had a very similar experience. “This class has taught me that there is more to life than worrying about death, no matter how cliché that may sound. The truth is, we all die, so we should embrace it and enjoy life,” Mild said. He also said that this class has sparked a love for John Denver, to the point he lays in his dorm room and meditates to the sweet mountain music.

Students not only presented their research projects to audience member, they also presented hand-painted canvases.

At the beginning of the semester, Professor Gilliar gave each of her First Year Seminar students a blank canvas, a paint brush and a singular color of paint. Along with the supplies came directions that the students were to paint something on their canvas that was special to them. Some students painted tributes to dead family members and others painted inspirational quotes. One student, Madison Haines, painted a Greek symbol that stands for “If there’s a will, there’s a way.”

She said, “I found this symbol and quote a few years ago and ever since I’ve wanted to get a tattoo. I still plan on getting this tattoo a few years from now.”

Students from Professor Gilliar’s course overall made a potentially gloomy event very informative and covered many aspects not traditionally considered with death. Professor Gilliar said, “I would like to thank my students from the deepest place of gratitude and would like to applaud my students for their courage. They have brought a new meaning to the phrase ‘pushing one’s boundary’ because they have all divulged part of their souls in this project and these paintings and I am beyond grateful.”