Honors students broaden communication research skills through thesis creation

Hard work and dedication have paid off in the form of completed Honors theses.

Six students presented their research in the disciplines of chemistry, communication, business, nursing and education as part of the Honors Program.

Elementary education senior Abigail Seamon wrote her thesis about rhetorical criticism, which is a competitive event within the National Forensic Association.

“It is such a relief to say that I have finally finished my thesis,” Seamon said. “Writing a thesis isn’t easy, and takes a lot of time and dedication. It was exciting to finally be able to tell others about my research and what I have learned.”

Those in the Honors Program take one interdisciplinary course per year, and then complete a thesis. Students work with a faculty adviser to create their thesis, which in most cases is a 30-page paper on a topic of the student’s choice. The theses can be student-directed, faculty-directed or a creative project.

Once the thesis is completed, the students explain their research in a 45-minute presentation with a 15-minute question-and-answer session.

Professor of English and chair of the Honors Program Elizabeth Rich said creating a thesis is beneficial to students.

“The Honors Program gives students the chance to become highly specialized and to do specific research that prepares them for graduate school,” she said. “Honors theses have prepared students for graduate programs, professional programs like law school and for very competitive jobs.”

Secondary education junior, Shanda Drumm wrote her thesis about the international baccalaureate, which is an alternative education program. She compared the implementation of the program in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“This summer, I did an internship in London where I was working in an international baccalaureate school,” she said. “I became really interested in the way that the program itself worked, and I wanted to see if it was the same worldwide.”

In addition to taking classes with other Honors students, those involved with the program get to participate in research, have access to scholarship opportunities, collaborate with faculty and participate in special events.

Rich said the courses the Honors students take span across disciplines, which teaches useful skills.

“Students have the opportunity to practice fine-tuning their knowledge base in their disciplines, while also learning how to express that in different ways to other people in different disciplines,” she said. “It allows them, once they enter the workforce or enter their graduate programs, to communicate better and to flourish in a way that maybe they wouldn’t if they had just remained highly specialized.”

Seamon said writing a thesis is an important part of a student’s development.

“Creating a thesis is beneficial to students because it allows students to choose a topic they are truly interested in and do extensive research on it,” she said.

She said the learned information that she will carry with her forever, which made all the hard work worth it.

Rich said that those in the Honors Program represent the talent present at the university.

“Honors students, because they have a lot of energy and are highly organized, offer a great deal to the other students at SVSU, as well as to those of us who run various programs,” she said. “I’m very proud of the students in the Honors Program.”

Despite the hard work, Drumm is glad she chose to join the Honors Program and create a thesis.

“It was a really challenging experience, because it was something that I’d never done before,” she said. “It’s really nerve-wracking and challenging, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.”

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