By Jess Perkins
It is almost time for students in the Honors Program to defend and present their thesis statements. COVID-19 has made things rough, but the show must go on. According to the Honors Thesis Guidelines for Students and Faculty Advisors, the thesis statement is the “capstone” of what those in the Honors Program have learned. The honors thesis can take many shapes and forms and will reflect the expertise one has in their subject. Dr. Steven Jensen, the Honors Program chair, is optimistic about how students in the Honors Program are doing on their theses. He mentions that the thesis statements usually are closer to the end of the semester. There are some exceptions, such as Eric Baker, who presented his thesis on the WWII plane B-61 on Sept. 30, due to COVID-19. There are several students that are going to defend and present their thesis this semester, including Daleen Cowgar, Lauren Geiger, Julia Karmie, James Kontur, John Krichbaum, Scott Markle, and Zach Rearick. Also in this group is Emma Martinez, a senior political science, history, and philosophy major; and Christian Sanko, a senior communication arts major. Martinez’s thesis statement asks “Have Alexander Hamilton’s points in Federalist 84 that state the dangers of a Bill of Rights been realized throughout American history?” She goes in-depth about the context of the historical evidence and the process of ratification. She also shows how and why people at the time were in opposition or in favor of the Bill of Rights. One thing that Martinez said she has learned through her thesis is “We as Americans tend to have a singular story even with how polarized we are.” She also notes that how people saw things in the past was different than we see them now, since Americans accept the Bill of Rights, while people at the time argued over it. Martinez gave advice for those doing their thesis. “Do as much as you can for your thesis on non-school breaks,” she said, referencing breaks such as the summer. This would provide more valuable time and resources to those doing their research for their projects. She says that the quarantine this year has caused problems during her research. Martinez’s committee comprises her advisor Dr. David Beer, along with Dr. Jay Case and Dr. Scott Waalkes. She hopes to defend her thesis in the first or second week of November 2020, and she will present her thesis at least two weeks afterward. Sanko’s thesis asks “What would be the best way for the Christian community to present the Gospel of Mark in a way reflective of its original medium and intent while meeting the audience’s contemporary media landscape?” His thesis is an artistic thesis, which means that not only will he present the evidence to support his statement, but he will also compare his statement to his interpretation of the artistic presentation. Sanko will present the Gospel of Mark through a brief performance of this specific Gospel. The research for his thesis has taken a year, but he started his project in the spring of 2018. In describing what he learned through the process of his thesis Sanko said, “It takes a village to create and synthesize a large amount of information in a single work.” He gives credit to his professors and other researchers in this process, along with the librarians that have helped him with his research. Sanko’s committee is comprised of his advisor Dr. Andrew Rudd, Dr. Randi Pahlau and Dr. TC Ham. There is no set date for his thesis yet, but he hopes to defend his thesis to his panel in late November 2020.