Seniors present theses at Academic Honors Week

Belton senior Melissa Rosario Montgomery shares her thesis on “Sociology Through Harry Potter” on Tuesday in 115 Alexander. Photo credit: Liesje Powers

By Rylee Seavers | Staff Writer

The Honors College’s 25th annual J. Harry and Anna Jeanes Academic Honors Week is underway. During this week, undergraduate students present thesis research papers and attend a banquet.

Events began Tuesday and will conclude Friday with the academic convocation. Academic Honors Week is a recognition of the opportunities provided to undergraduate students through the Honors College.

Throughout the week, all graduating seniors in the honors program will be presenting thesis research projects, said Dr. Thomas Hibbs, dean of the Honors College. The honors thesis is an opportunity for students in the Honors College to work intensively on one subject with the counsel of a faculty member that has knowledge on the subject, Hibbs said. These thesis projects sometimes lead to internships, graduate school admission and other opportunities, Hibbs said.

“It allows them to connect their career goals with what they are doing academically,” Hibbs said.

Hibbs also said that the mark of a successful research university is one that provides opportunities and encourages undergraduate and graduate students to conduct independent research.

Dr. Albert Beck, admissions and advisement coordinator for the Honors Program, wrote in an email to the Lariat that the thesis presentations are usually the culmination of two years of work for honors students and represent considerable time and effort.

“For the Baylor community, this is an opportunity for other students and faculty to see the fruit of the thesis process. For the student making the presentation, this is often great training for graduate or professional school where scholarship will continue to be shared with the larger academy,” Beck wrote.

There are over 100 students completing their honors thesis this semester, according to Beck.

A banquet will be held on Wednesday for all graduating seniors and their faculty mentors. Three previous honors program graduates will speak to the current seniors about the impacts their thesis projects had on their education and opportunities after graduation.

The academic convocation on Friday will recognize outstanding students from across Baylor, not just in the Honors College, Hibbs said. Each major from across the university nominates an outstanding student that will be recognized at the convocation.

Jolene Damoiseaux, Baylor alumnus and founder and executive director of Mother on the Move, will be speaking at the convocation.

Hibbs said that taking on a large research project for students who are often around age 21 or 22 is a very impressive achievement. Being able to present the project to other students and faculty and take questions also shows a high intellectual achievement, he said.

“It’s an opportunity for students to put together all the skills that they’ve learned, all the content that they’ve learned, into a large, focused project,” Hibbs said.

Academic Honors Week is named for J. Harry and Anna Jeanes, who supported the Honors Program when it was small and subsequently helped provide the resources it needed to grow, Hibbs said. Harry attended Academic Honors Week events every year until he was physically unable to, Hibbs said, and continued to watch recordings of Academic Honors Week after.

“It’s important that we express our gratitude to them for seeing the possibility of something that could be great when it was fairly small,” Hibbs said of the Jeanes.