Super Scholars: Special Day at Monmouth College Honors Students’ Academic Work

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There were superheroes around every corner during Monmouth College’s Scholars Day on Tuesday, which included a poster presentation in the Huff Athletic Center and the annual Honors Convocation in Dahl Chapel and Auditorium.

“Today, we honor you, but every day, it is you who honor the College,” said Monmouth President Clarence Wyatt to students during his remarks midway through the poster presentation session.

Superheroes were also present at the day’s annual Scholarship Luncheon. Grateful students shared a table with the alumni and friends of the College responsible for funding scholarships that helped defray the cost of their liberal arts education.

Deeks Carroll ’62 explained how his class was inspired at its 45th reunion to give something back to Monmouth. They collectively raised $100,000 for a scholarship, just in time for their 50th reunion. Annually, three students now receive the Class of 1962 scholarship, which now has a fund valued at more than $200,000. One of Carroll’s professors, Harlow Blum, who Carroll said “turned my life around,” attended the luncheon.

Several of Monmouth’s academic superheroes shared scholarly work about their comic book counterparts, thanks to a “Media Criticism” taught by communication studies faculty member Chris Goble.

Charlie Conkle ’24 delved into “superiority complex” in a poster related to Spider-Man, and other superheroes covered by students included Black Panther, Iron Man, Captain America, the Wolverine, Black Widow and Blue Beetle, the Latino superhero.

Double majors

Jan Abel ’24 was one of the students in that class. Her poster dealt with Batman and his battle with Poison Ivy.

Abel was one of a few students who had multiple posters on display. She also set up shop by the columns of the College’s old Waid Gymnasium, writing poetry on demand on a late 1950s Royal typewriter. Some of her fellow 300-level writing students were doing the same nearby on a mid-1960s Olivetti model.

The students set out chapbooks and broadsides of their work, and their poster read, in part, “Poetry isn’t just the emotions of long-dead writers, it’s alive and ever-changing.”

Another double-duty student was Jeff Schnetzler ’25, who had posters in two locations. He and professor Bob Simmons recently received a $1,000 Faculty-Undergraduate Collaborative Research Award to work on the subject of one of Schnetzler’s posters, titled “Recreating Ancient Technique of Discus.”

A member of TARTANS — Teachers Allied with Rural Towns and Neighborhood Schools — Schnetzler’s educational studies poster was titled “Career Technical Education in Rural Schools.”

A multidisciplinary event

At the Honors Convocation, Lillian Hucke ’24 received a special award, Mortar Board’s Senior Woman of the Year honor. Just a few hours later, she presented a poster related to Schnetzler’s, titled “‘On Your Own Island’: Rural Teaching Crisis,” which she researched as part of her studies in sociology and anthropology.

Nearly two dozen academic disciplines were covered by the posters, ranging from plastic waste and sustainability, to virtual reality, and from Madagascar hissing cockroaches — “Oh, gosh, he’s going to climb on you,” Olivia Turley ’24 said to relatively calm biology professor Eric Engstrom — to a “Fortress Defender” home defense system built by engineering students.

“We used a PIR (passive infrared sensor) motion detector to initiate a home defense system that uses embedded systems to alarm in an instance of intruders,” read the students’ poster.

“Overall, it turned out great,” said Turner Plumer ’26, who said other components could be added to the system in the future.

The students, who worked with professor Shahed Quadir, were asked, “Do you think you’ll get an A?”

“I hope so,” replied Thomas Henson ’26.

“It works, so …,” added Lizzie Durfee ’26.

Across the concourse, Dean Duncan ’25 answered a very pointed question in his poster, titled “Why Is Food Getting So Expensive?”

In short, he said, an increase in input costs for farmers has occurred at the same time as a decrease in supply, caused at first by the COVID pandemic and continued due to the Russia-Ukraine War.

“We should start to see prices go back down in the next couple of months,” he said.

There was something to spark everyone’s interest at the Huff Center, including artwork on display. Eli Douglass ’24 even created art during the two-hour session, giving a demonstration of wheel-thrown pottery.

The Monmouth College Wind Ensemble performed from the floor of the fieldhouse, followed by the sounds of Craig and Co., a five-member group that includes four faculty members — professors Vanessa CampagnaDick JohnstonLogan Mayfield and Craig Vivian.

Dean of the faculty Mark Willhardt congratulated the students for their scholarly work.

“Today, you’re taking the next step in your work – taking it to the worldwide public,” he said. “You’re answering questions about it, and we’re proud of you for your work and for your ability to talk about your work and explain it to us.”

***Courtesy of Duane Bonifer, Monmouth College***

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