by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
When students with like interests gather together, friendships naturally arise. When they deep-dive into that interest and then write about it, stellar scholarship can emerge. That’s the beauty of Dickinson’s first-year seminars (FYS), which introduce students to college-level academic inquiry through small-group discussions and research on the broad topic of their choice.
Norma Jean Park '18
Those who produce exceptional FYS papers are asked to enter the FYS Excellence in Writing Award contest. Winners receive a cash award and certificate, and present their work during a brief ceremony in the Biblio Cafe.
On Feb. 11, the 2015 FYS Excellence in Writing Awards were bestowed on four members of the class of 2018 who researched campus activism, culture studies, politics, environmental policy and world literature.
Norma Jean Park ’18 of Basking Ridge, N.J., was lauded for her paper on LGBT equality efforts on college campuses, which she wrote for Understanding the Academic Community, taught by Noreen Lape, writing-program director. Her analysis referenced surveys conducted at Dickinson two decades ago.
Madeleine Gardner '18
Madeleine Gardner ’18 earned praise for her literary analysis of Baldomero Lillo's short story “Gate No. 12” for her FYS, Latin American Short Stories, led by Angela Delutis-Eichenberger, assistant professor of Spanish.
Gardner said that a seminar field trip to northern Pennsylvania inspired her work on the story, which reveals working conditions faced by Chilean miners.
"We went to a mine in Lackawanna County, Pa., so we could get a sense for the dark, oppressive atmosphere," recalled the Westminster, Md., native. "That perspective stuck with me and really made me interested in Lillo's stories. It inspired me to read them further."
Katelyn King '18
Katelyn King ’18 of Pleasant Hall, Pa., enrolled in Professor of Anthropology Ann Hill’s FYS on the culture and environment of upland Asia, a topic that piqued her curiosity about world cultures and her passion for environmentalism. Her paper outlines the effects of environmental policy on the Yi people, one of 55 officially recognized minority groups in China.
"The paper was to be a minimum of 10 pages, which is the longest paper I have ever had to write, but overall, the process was smooth," King said, noting that the true challenge lay in the research, as scholarship on the Yi dates back just a few decades and is relatively sparse. Delving in, however, she uncovered the political, sociological and environmental effects of recent state environmental policies, which did not take the Yi’s traditional practices and beliefs into account.
Jessie Jansen '18
Jessie Jansen ’18’s paper on hair and black feminism arose from her FYS, Tangled, African American Hair in the U.S., taught by Crystal Moten, assistant professor of history.
“Before I entered this class, I never realized that black hair choices can give us an interesting way to look at the history of racism in the United States,” said Jansen, a Portland, Ore., native who relished both the class readings and in-depth group discussions on the subject. “I enjoy writing research papers, but I enjoyed this one the most, because I was absolutely fascinated by the topic.”
Gardner agreed. "I wrote some analytical essays in high school, but this essay challenged me to evaluate the story at a deeper level," she said.
Published February 16, 2015