YSU students graduate during research trip to the Bahamas

Students taking part in the research trip to the BahamasYoungstown State University professor emeritus and part-time faculty member Ron Shaklee is known for his annual student research trip to the Bahamas. This year, he conducted an island ceremony for two graduating students giving them a trip to remember.

Shaklee, who had been introduced to the teaching and research facilities at the Bahamian Field Station, now known as the college of the Bahamas Gerace Research Centre on San Salvador Island, instituted a research program at YSU shortly after coming on as an employee of the university in the 1980’s.

He organized his first trip with YSU students in 1988 and has gone every year with the exception of the international travel shut down during the pandemic, but effectively picked right back up in December of 2022.

This year, Shaklee and Dawna Cerney, professor of Geography, took 18 Honors and Tropical Ecology students to San Salvador Island in the Bahamas, while Tom Delvaux, part-time faculty, and Matt O’Mansky, associate professor of Archaeology, took 19 Archaeology students.

Graduates Darcy McTigue and Rachael Smith with their palm frondsDarcy McTigue and Rachael Smith, both students from the Beeghly College of Liberal Arts and Social Science, missed their on-campus graduation ceremony to take the trip. Shaklee hosted a special island graduation ceremony for the pair. In lieu of diplomas, he handed out palm fronds to the students during the ceremony.

Though the course has changed in title over the years, the objective has remained the same.This year, it was offered as an honors seminar, Tropical Ecology, which introduces students to specific elements of the tropical climate while conducting research to create a better understanding of the climate and environment of a tropical setting.

Over 1,000 students in total have attended this trip and 300 students have participated as archaeologists. Delvaux said, “Students have described this course as the highlight of their academic program and cite it as a ‘life changing’ experience.”