Alpha Chi gives platform to unique student ideas in annual spring showcase

Alpha Chi gives platform to unique student ideas in annual spring showcase

Hunter White, an English major, presents his research on the Christian aspects of the epic “Beowulf.”

Courtesy of Ben Absher

Lee University’s chapter of Alpha Chi, an academic honor society for upperclassmen, hosted its annual Academic Showcase last week in the Rose Lecture Hall.

The Academic Showcase highlighted student work from various disciplines throughout the university, allowing students to present their exemplary academic and creative work before peers and a panel of faculty judges with the opportunity to win monetary prizes.

This year, four students brought home awards for their work: Ashley Walker, Maegen Phillips, Chris Absher and Hope Fischbach.

Walker, an English major, nabbed the top spot in the academic category for spotlighting the connection between ancient Greek philosophy and the American classic, “The Great Gatsby.”

Absher and Phillips, both theology majors, presented their research on women in the ministry and the fall of man, respectively.

Fischbach, who is earning her degree in Spanish, won the creative category award for her short story “Zinnias.”

The competition is open to any student of any academic year, not solely Alpha Chi members.

For the chance to present one’s work in the showcase, students must submit an application to Alpha Chi faculty sponsors Dr. Thomas Pope, associate professor of political science; or Dr. John Wykoff, associate professor of music theory and composition. The faculty sponsors then review the applications, determining whether the work will be included in the academic or creative category.

Ben Absher, Alpha Chi president and junior political science student, detailed the wide array of students who are typically involved in the competition.

“We’ll have people from humanities, math and science and theology in the academic portion and usually a lot of music, theater and sometimes English majors who have done short stories, typically gearing themselves toward the creative,” Ben Absher said.

The application process has several components.

“Students are asked to summarize their work, explain why it is exemplary undergraduate scholarship and provide a faculty member who will vouch for its merit,” Pope explained.

If selected to participate in the showcase, students have between eight and 10 minutes to present their work to the panel of judges, who are given a particular rubric to judge the presentations.

“[The rubric] evaluates things like the thesis of the work, supporting evidence, organization and delivery,” Pope said. “Creative work is evaluated based upon the originality of the piece itself, but also the student’s ability to discuss the nature of the work and the creative process.”

This year’s judges were associate professor of sociology Dr. Arlie Tagayuna, associate professor of biology Dr. Thaddeus McRae and associate professor of music theory Dr. Austin Patty.

Patty said, as a judge, he was looking for presenters who would be able to demonstrate the significance of their work in a clear and engaging way.

“Winning presenters show how the aesthetic experience they create or the approach they take to answering an important question expands our understanding and appreciation of what it might mean to live as human beings in this beautiful but fallen world,” Patty said.

While the judges were deliberating, Alpha Chi also invited Dr. Terry Cross, dean of the School of Religion and professor of systematic theology, to give a short talk on the importance of academics on Lee’s campus.

According to Ben Absher, the time was also spent distributing honor cords to Alpha Chi graduating seniors.

When the judges were finished deliberating, cash prizes were awarded to the winning presenters in both the academic and creative categories. The first place prize was $150, second place $100 and third place $75.

“You come expecting to experience wonderfully creative pieces,” Patty said, noting the high quality of work done for the showcase. “And to hear thought-provoking and elegantly-supported arguments.”

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