Up Close with Student Award Winners: September 2017
The students spotlighted in this issue are the two winners of the Spring 2017 Lunsford Awards. They will be honored in person in a ceremony in May 2018.
Michael Bereket: Lunsford Award Winner (Spring 2017)
Michael Bereket's goal when entering Jennifer Johnson's PWR 2 class last spring ( The Rhetoric of Language, Identity, & Power) was to contribute original research to a contemporary issue or question that he found interesting. The result was a compelling project on college admissions, which was featured in his award-winning presentation, "The Exceptional Self: How the Pressure to 'Stand Out' in the College Admission Process Rewrites Student Racial Identities."
Jennifer had the following to say about Michael's work:
By bridging existing theoretical frameworks around racial and narrative identity and providing clear and engaging visuals in his presentation, Michael translates his extensive and complex survey and interview research findings with thoughtfulness, clarity and precision. Not only does he captivate his student audience as they think about their own college application process, but he calls on the larger academic community to better understand the relationship of peers, community and college in shaping student identities.
A native of San Carlos, California, Michael is a computer science major and math minor, who has particular interests in biotechnology and entrepeneurship. He writes that " many of my interests are connected by underlying passions for engaging with others, exploring how the world (including us) works, and creating." He also enjoys music, dancing, distance running, learning/teaching, and joking around.
Lauren Seabrooks: Lunsford Award Winner (Spring 2017)
A Human Biology major, Lauren recently has developed a strong interest in the Black experience and so has chosen to focus her research on the social determinants of health in Black American communities. In PWR 2, when enrolled in Donna Hunter's "I ___ Therefore I Am? 21st Century Identity," Lauren decided to explore identity issues experienced by children whose parents have been incarcerated. Lauren presented her research in her award-winning presentation, entitled,“Breaking from the Cycle: Causes and Effects of Intergenerational Parental Incarceration.” Donna's description of Lauren's research and presentation underscores the way Lauren contributed to the larger conversation by drawing on her own experience and making key connections between sources and ideas:
Lauren began researching the long-term effects of parental incarceration on black children raised in middle to upper SES communities, only to find that the vast majority of literature only addressed the effects on children in impoverished neighborhoods. This challenge required that Lauren use her own experience, the experiences of low-income children and other sources only seemingly tangentially related to parental incarceration to discover how her more unique situation could inform them both. Drawing upon the spoken word piece she created for her genre/mode assignment, Lauren delivers her well-structured, visually captivating research findings with passion and conviction.
The experience of working on this project clearly had a pronounced impact on Lauren's understand of herself, personally and academically. In reflecting on her experience in Donna's class, Lauren writes:
The Rhetoric of 21st Century Identity, completely transformed how I understand my own identity. Both the research that I did and the rhetorical skills that I gained led me to realize that I want to go to law school and pursue a career working with the incarcerated and the families of the incarcerated. I could not be more grateful for Donna and the PWR program for giving me this phenomenal experience.
In previous years, Lauren has worked in alumni relations and class government, and in the upcoming academic year, she will be an RA in Larkin, working with first-year students. On campus, I've worked in alumni relations, class government, and am looking forward to being an RA in Larkin next year. My PWR 2 class, Dr. Donna Hunter's The Rhetoric of 21st Century Identity, completely transformed how I understand my own identity. Both the research that I did and the rhetorical skills that I gained led me to realize that I want to go to law school and pursue a career working with the incarcerated and the families of the incarcerated. I could not be more grateful for Donna and the PWR program for giving me this phenomenal experience.
To access additional materials related how these students developed these award-winning presentations, please visit our Building a Lunsford Winner page.