Whether the focus is athletics or politics, completing an honors thesis allows students the opportunity to gain knowledge, and maybe even a new passion, for a specific topic. All students who graduate with honors distinction complete a thesis project. This November, five seniors completed their theses and presented them to friends and faculty.
Senior public relations major and former Honors College president Everett Kirkman titled her thesis, “Digital Pulpit: A Thematic Analysis of Evangelical Leaders’ Statements on Twitter in the Two Weeks Following the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot.”
“I think the great thing about a thesis like this within the Honors College is of course it’s going to be relevant to your field of study, but you can also make it unique to what you’re interested in,” Everett said. “For example, I’m not a Bible major, but I’m focusing on evangelical leaders. I’m not a political science major, but I’m focusing on politics within that also. I chose my topic because it is an intersection of things I’m interested in.”
Senior multimedia journalism major Hayley Kate Webb said that she recommends the honors thesis process to other students. Her thesis is titled, “More Than an Athlete: A Qualitative Analysis of How Student-Athletes Develop Self-Authorship Through Their Experiences in Athletics.”
“For me, it uncovered another passion that I didn’t really know that I had, and as a former collegiate athlete, the identity development of student-athletes is something that is real that I remember walking through,” Hayley Kate said. “Now that I’ve done all of this research and talked to all of these people, basically telling the same stories that I’ve walked, all of a sudden I have this passion for standing up for valuing the individual within the student-athlete. The honors thesis uncovered a passion for it, so you never know what you’re going to find.”
Dr. Jim Miller, associate professor of communication, serves as the Honors College faculty fellow. He advised Kirkman and Webb throughout their thesis processes.
Miller said that an honors thesis sets students apart as individuals who have studied at a high level and produced a piece of scholarship that is unique among their peers.
“Over four years they’ve been on an educational journey where they have developed a really strong interest academically and professionally, so they’ve got these goals and interests that they are interested in pursuing even after graduation. The thesis is a product of that; they pull together all of the learning they’ve done over four years into this one very large comprehensive piece of academic scholarship. It’s important for them because it does sort of synthesize their educational journey over the last four years, and it also provides a launching pad for them into the future, whether that’s graduate school or a job in the profession.”
Seniors Madeline Hall, Grace Long and Mary Grace Golden also presented their senior theses. Hall, a senior English major, titled her thesis, “A Leap into Communication: Kierkegaard and Spiritual Practices in ‘To the Wonder.’” Long, a senior cognitive neuroscience major titled her thesis, “The Effects of Twitter Posts Regarding COVID-19 Information on the Viewer’s Perception of Credibility: A Study on Misinformation.” Mary Grace Golden, a senior communication studies and public administration major titled her thesis, “Unpacking Political Identity in the First-Time Voting Christian Women: An Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis.” Congratulations to all five students on their thesis completion and presentations.