Articles tagged as: students
Remarks for the reception launching the latest edition of the student research journal Explorations on Nov. 14, 2013
Thank you very much for inviting me to be here today and say a few words about the humanities. As many people know, there has been a pretty fierce debate going on about the role of the humanities in higher education. Articles have appeared recently in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education about the so-called crisis in the humanities. Last night, I had dinner with Marianne Hirsch, the current president of the Modern Languages Association — she was our invited guest for the Buttrill Ethics Lecture at the Glasscock Center yesterday. She, like many of us in academia, is unhappy with the framing of this debate as a “crisis.” The humanities are alive and thriving at Texas A&M — our majors are holding steady and our graduates are going on to successful careers both inside and outside of academia. What is at stake is the perception of the humanities in current debates.
David A. Hollinger, who wrote the most recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, is right to point out that there is a wedge being driven between what he calls the human sciences and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines. This wedge, however, is in many cases an artificial one. Instead of opposing forces, the humanities and the natural, or what many call the “hard” sciences ought to view themselves as two sides of the same coin. Research in the humanities leads the way in risk-taking critical thinking about issues that both drive and surface as part of the methodological and measurable research being done in the STEM disciplines. We are not and should not be seen as mutually exclusive or antagonistic domains of inquiry. In fact, we should be collaborative. These two sides of the coin serve society in equally important ways: quantitatively and qualitatively. This is why publications like Explorations are so important.
This is the mission of the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research — to foster cross-disciplinary research among the community of scholars at Texas A&M and the world beyond the academy. We support research that advances knowledge through investigation, inquiry and interpretation of human experience. In fact, the program that I am the most proud of at the center is the collaborative initiative between Honors and Undergraduate Research and the Glasscock Center that we began two years ago. The Glasscock Summer Scholars program pairs a senior faculty member with a small cohort of 3-5 undergraduate students to conduct a research project in the humanities. Students are immersed in a two-week intensive course with faculty members and then work in writing studios in consultation with the Writing Center and their faculty mentors to develop a thesis proposal over the remaining eight weeks. This proposal becomes the basis for a year-long thesis project carried out under the Honors Undergraduate Research Program. Professors Datta, MacKenzie and I wanted to know what a “lab” might look like on the humanities side for undergraduate research, so we set up an office at the Glasscock Center, obtained computers, brought in Valerie Balester from the Writing Center and incredible faculty mentors and set up research bursaries for students. We have had four successful sessions with topics in classics, English, philosophy and international studies. Our students are publishing pieces in Explorations, applying for graduate school and working at places like think-tanks, as a result of this high-impact research — they are engaged in the kind of deep learning that promotes critical inquiry and great writing skills. These are the keys to a successful democratic society and the goal of great public education. They are the skills that help students adapt to the changing models of a global world in both academic and non-academic jobs. I am happy to report that Dean Bermúdez has just invested in our “humanities labs,” and we are now going to be able to double the number of Summer Scholars programs offered this summer. We are looking forward to many more students being able to submit articles and creative writing pieces to Explorations in the future and are grateful for this collaboration with Honors and Undergraduate Research. Thank you very much.
Meet Karen Butler-Purry: Karen Butler-Purry is Associate Provost for Graduate and Professional Studies and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Texas A&M. She has served at all faculty levels since her initial appointment with the university as visiting assistant professor of electrical engineering in 1994.
Texas A&M’s 3-Minute Thesis Final Competition Planned For 5:30 p.m., Nov. 21, in MSC 2300C
The 3-Minute Thesis Competition provides a great opportunity for a high-impact learning experience to support Aggies Commit, the University-wide quality enhancement plan. The 3-Minute Thesis Competition is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. Open to M.S. and Ph.D. students, this competition focuses on excellence in effective communication, challenging our graduate students to translate key research results and their significance to lay audiences. The format is similar to that first popularized by Ted Talks: An engaging idea presented concisely (but in just 3 minutes) and in non-technical language by an excellent speaker. Furthermore, the preparatory informational seminars offer students an opportunity to practice and develop their presentation skills.
What The Competition Says About Our Graduate Students And The Graduate Community
We Americans thrive on competition, don’t we? Formatting these presentations as a competition, complete with a “People’s Choice” winner to be selected by the audience, has generated lots of interest among our graduate students and faculty. Texas A&M student researchers are passionate about their work, but not everyone is skilled at translating the technical aspects of their work into everyday language the public can appreciate. Our five finalists will represent graduate students with the very best communication skills, the cream of the crop as judged in two preliminary rounds of competition this week. Their presentations and enthusiasm will highlight some of the cutting-edge research performed by our 10,000 graduate students and their faculty mentors here at Texas A&M.
Five Students Emerge From The Preliminary Competition
We have 26 students competing in the preliminary competition from a wide variety of disciplines, including students from the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Engineering, Education, Geoscience, Liberal Arts and Science. This represents a great turnout for the program’s first year. From the preliminary competition, five students will be selected to compete in the final Texas A&M 3-Minute Thesis Competition on Nov. 21. All other preliminary competitors will be exhibiting posters of their work in the same room before and after the finals competition. The winner of the final competition will advance to represent Texas A&M at a regional 3-Minute Thesis Competition to be held at the Conference for Southern Graduate Schools in San Antonio in February 2014. This overall winner, a runner-up and the People’s Choice winner will also receive cash prizes.
Outstanding Faculty Judges
A panel of five distinguished faculty, selected for their remarkable achievements and recognition in their disciplines, along with the president of our Graduate Student Council, Brittany Bounds, will serve as judges for the final Texas A&M 3-Minute Thesis Final Competition. Confirmed judges include Christine Ehlig-Economides, professor and A.B. Stevens Endowed Chair in petroleum engineering; Joanne Lupton, distinguished professor, Regents professor, University Faculty Fellow and William W. Allen Endowed Chair in nutrition and food science; and Joe Feagin, Ella C. McFadden professor in sociology and a Pulitzer Prize nominee.
We welcome any and all interested undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff and community members to watch the event and help select the People’s Choice winner. If you plan to attend the final competition, please RSVP. RSVP is not required but appreciated in assisting us with our planning.
Meet Suma Datta: Dr. Sumana Datta is associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics and of biology, and she is also the executive director of Honors and Undergraduate Research at Texas A&M. She joined the university in 1993. The Astronaut Scholarship Foundation program is scheduled for 10-11:30a.m. on Monday, Oct. 28 in Rudder Theatre. The event is open to the public. Free tickets are required from the Memorial Student Center Box Office.
Astronaut Scholarships Are Making a Difference
Many of you read that we recently lost one of our original Mercury Seven astronauts and national Space heroes, Scott Carpenter, who was also one of the founders and ongoing supporters of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF). Since 1986, ASF has awarded more than $3.7 million in scholarships and now awards 28 scholarships annually of $10,000 each to outstanding college students who exhibit motivation, imagination, and exceptional performance in science and technology fields. These scholarships go to a select group of institutions that include MIT, Georgia Tech, and others, as well as Texas A&M, based on these institutions’ initiative, creativity, and excellence in the fields of science, mathematics, and engineering.
For the first time in its history, AFS has awarded two scholarships to the same institution in a single award year—Texas A&M University. I am thrilled to congratulate both of our outstanding nominees, and winners, on this honor: Dillon Amaya ’14, majoring in meteorology and Amanda Couch ’14, majoring in electrical engineering. One is already a gifted scientist and the other, a gifted engineer. Both have demonstrated a passion for solving complex research problems.
Dillon Amaya says he had a love of science from childhood and a curiosity to “understand how the world works.” By the time he arrived at Texas A&M, he knew he wanted a hands-on approach to his field and was inspired to focus on understanding, predicting, and publicizing the immense implications of global climate change. His drive and curiosity to explain the future by investigating the past began in an Oceanography research laboratory on campus that led him to an internship in Alaska, then out onto the open ocean on a research vessel. Last year, Dillon presented his research and defended his work at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
Amanda Couch’s childhood dreams of superpowers and Space battles have matured into a fascination with communication—both in Space and to local communities, to inspire others with the enormous potential of applied electronics. Her journey has taken her from the Texas A&M Electromagnetics and Microwaves Laboratory to high school engineering summer camps and an internship with Boeing. Currently she is developing a reconfigurable antenna and measurement system for educational purposes, intended for use in a high school physics or engineering setting, and presented on her work last year at a symposium of the Institute of Electronics and Electronics Engineers.
Both of these exceptional students have combined intellectual drive and talent with unique opportunities for undergraduate research at Texas A&M, and found a lifetime calling, one that we hope will lead them to become established as visionaries of their fields and improve the world for all of us. Both will be recognized for these accomplishments next week with their scholarship presentations from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
The program will be an occasion to hear from one of our leaders in the Space industry, Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana, a veteran of four space shuttle missions that included the first assembly mission for the International Space Station. (If you haven’t seen the movie Gravity yet, I encourage you to do so and then come to hear from someone who has actually been in Space!) The program is open to the campus community and public, and is free of charge, thanks to sponsorship by the ASF, Honors and Undergraduate Research, and the Office of the Provost.
Programs like this bring to the forefront the academic scholarship of our students and the value of opportunities for them at an institution like ours through internships, international experiences, research with renowned faculty, and service to the community at large.
I hope you will join me on October 28!
Meet Reid Joseph: Reid Joseph is an industrial distribution major from Springdale, Arkansas. Born in Dallas, he is a Texan and proud third generation Aggie. He is a member of the Ross Volunteer Company, Maroon Coats and the Aggie Muster Committee, Fish Aides, Traditions Council, Abbott Family Leadership Conference and the Professional Association for Industrial Distribution.
Why did you decide to run for Student Body President, and what to you hope to accomplish?
This was a question that took months to figure out. I had so many friends and even acquaintances approach and ask me to run for SBP starting the spring of my sophomore year and especially so in the fall of my junior year. However, I knew that I was the one who had to make the decision and that I needed to know exactly why I was doing it instead of simply doing it because others thought I should.
The simple answer is this: after making the commitment to serve this Aggie family on the night of Muster my freshman year, I realized that this position would best allow me to serve my Aggie family. If there was a position where I thought I could have served more than I would have pursued that, but after months of prayer and many conversations with friends and family, I felt the Lord calling me to run for this office and knew without a shadow of a doubt that this is what I was supposed to do. I knew I was supposed to run and leave the results up to the Lord.
Some of our goals for the upcoming year:
- Build 2013 – Building a house on-campus as a student body with oversight by Habitat for Humanity
- 12thCan – completing the on-campus food pantry for A&M students
- Spreading awareness of SGA – speaking to four organizations per week and getting student feedback as well as giving updates
- Silver Taps – find ways of increasing attendance of Silver Taps
- Create a College Council Roundtable to be a sounding board for SGA
- Create an SGA listserv
- Publicly recognize outstanding Aggies
- Change election regulations to where students have three votes for senior yell and two votes for junior while maintaining Instant Runoff Voting
You mention Muster. How has that and some of the other student organizations or activities you’ve worked with influenced you or changed your insights?
These activities have greatly influenced and inspired me to continually strive to be the best that I can be. The people in these organizations have had an incredible impact on me, and they have helped shape who I am. I am proud to have participated in all of them, but Muster held a particularly significant meaning for me.
You could literally say that I was born into the Aggie family when my father had the Aggie War Hymn playing in my delivery room in Dallas. I also had the privilege of continuing my upbringing in the Aggie family by attending Muster in my hometown. While growing up, my view of Muster was limited to thinking that it was a pretty neat ceremony. However, my entire view changed on April 21, 2011. Not only was this my first on-campus Muster, but my beloved “Papaw” was honored on this sacred evening.
On October 30, 2010, my grandfather, class of 1947 and World War II veteran, was taken home by the good Lord. The news was devastating. I had never lost anyone close to me before. It was very difficult for me to accept, and I kept pushing off dealing with the fact that he was gone.
That evening of Muster was so much more than I could have ever imagined and produced emotions that I have never felt before. My family members came from all parts of the state to answer, “Here,” for the man who had been there so many times for us. As I stood in Reed Arena, with tears welling in my eyes, I realized that I was not just surrounded by my family of Aggies, but by the entire Aggie family. And it was on this night that I committed to serve this Aggie family in whatever capacity so that someday, Lord willing, my grandson could stand answer, “Here,” when it is time for my name to be read. The moment was overwhelming and is something that I will always remember. It brought a closure to my grandfather’s life that I needed.
I realized that Aggie Muster is so much more than a ceremony that people attend every year. It is a time when a family comes together to remember those who have gone before us. One cannot fit Muster in a box just like one cannot fit the Aggie family in a box. Muster ceremonies are held in foreign nations, churches, fancy restaurants, backyards, military bases, trenches, and the list goes on and on.
How long has it been since the last SBP was in the Corps of Cadets, and do you plan to remain in the Corps during your year in office?
It has been 22 years since the SBP has been an active member of the Corps. His name is Lt. Colonel Steven Ruth. Yes, I will remain a member of the Corps during my time in office. They are very understanding, supportive and accommodating. They understand that I will have to miss things here and there in order to do my job well.
This will be my last year in the Corps, and I will not commission into the service. I would be more than happy to serve someday; however, I did not feel like I was called to make a career out of it.
Meet Graciel Rodriguez: Graciel Rodriguez ’13, a senior from Brownsville, Texas, is studying supply chain management in the Mays Business School. He is serving his second full year as Chair of MSC Committee for the Awareness of Mexican American Culture (CAMAC) and was also one of the lead organizers of the 25th Annual Student Conference on Latino Affairs (SCOLA).
This is your fourth year in MSC CAMAC. How did you first join CAMAC?
When I first came to A&M, the brother of one of my friends was the chair of CAMAC at the time. She invited me, and I went to a couple of meetings the first semester, but I chose not to join because I was still transitioning from high school to college, and I was not having a fun time. I wanted to focus on adjusting to college first.
Second semester I decided to come to one of the meetings, and I really liked it because it matches with my background. My ideals and goals relate to those of CAMAC. I want to help with education and culture and community outreach. Even though I am a business major, these are things that really interest me.
This is your second year as chair of MSC CAMAC?
Technically this is my third year. This is my fifth semester as chair. I became chair when I was a sophomore, my second semester. I was the interim chair then, in my junior year, I became the official chair for the full year. So I’ve been here quite a while. I’m breaking records here in the MSC as far as keeping the same position.
What kinds of changes or improvements have you seen or have you and your team made in that time?
I think CAMAC has changed a lot. When I first came to CAMAC, I saw that it was a great organization, but we were doing programming for ourselves. As I went through the process of being the marketing director, and then chair, I began pushing for changes.
I dedicated myself to reaching out to different organizations to try to collaborate with them. I talked to Hispanic Presidents Council, Mexican Student Association, and within the MSC, WBAC, Town Hall — we’ve been collaborating with them on Salsa Dance Night — and L.T. Jordan International Institute. We have been doing a lot of co-programming, and that has helped us develop relationships. So far this year we’ve worked with ten different organizations, so I think reaching out to other organizations is something that we’ve been doing differently, and that has helped a lot.
What kinds of things do you think you’ve learned from your experience at the MSC that you believe will help you in your future?
Probably number one is being able to connect with people, and number two is being able to lead teams. Three is being able to relate to other students.
When I first started as chair, I was a sophomore, and my executive team was made up of mostly juniors and seniors. It was difficult for them to look at me and say, “Hey, there is a sophomore leading the team. What is he doing? Why is he there?” So that really taught me a lot of things about how to relate and connect to people in different ways. It doesn’t matter if you are a sophomore or a senior or a former student or a CEO of a company, you have to know people from their personalities, not necessarily their positions. It’s not only about leading them but it’s about building relationships. As chair for so long, I’ve had the opportunity to practice being a leader, and I think that is really going to help me in the future.
Also I’ve made a lot of friends just by talking to people in other organizations, and that has given me a lot of opportunities for networking and building relationships and friendships. Every year CAMAC attends the Texas A&M Hispanic Network Summit. I have had the opportunity to go to this summit for three years now and have had the opportunity to build relationships with them. Having the chance to relate to former students and other people from outside campus is really going to help me a lot.
What are some of the programs that you as a committee are particularly proud of producing or having some participation in producing?
We have four annual programs that we want to keep doing for many years because they mean something to CAMAC, and they impact the community and students here on campus.
One of them is the (just completed) Student Conference on Latino Affairs, which is twenty-five years old and is the largest Latino conference here at Texas A&M.
Which was focused on trying to give delegates tools and knowledge to help them take action and become leaders.
Yes. The theme of the conference was “Lead Out Loud,” and with this we wanted to encourage action, of taking on leadership roles and leading other people. We saw that one of the main issues in the Hispanic community is that there is not really adequate representation in leadership positions in the government and in corporate areas, as well as education leadership. So we wanted to touch on the problems that affect how Latino students develop leadership skills and examine why we’re not there yet in terms of having representation in leadership positions. We want delegates to have left the conference motivated and armed with the tools they will need to take action and assume leadership roles and positions.
What about other CAMAC programs?
Another program is Mi Casa es Su Casa, which brings students into the homes of professors and staff for a homemade meal and the chance to share information and stories. The main goal of Mi Casa is to build relationships between students and professors and staff, with the idea that that helps students succeed in school. We have that program on the third Thursday every month. The last program, in April, will be hosted by Gen. Weber, the vice president for student affairs. Everyone who has participated in the program throughout the year will gather together for a closing ceremony.
Salsa Dance Night is a one-day program that is one of our most successful programs. We bring in an instructor who teaches students four different types of dances: cumbia, salsa, merengue, and bachata. After that we have a competition so students can apply what they’ve just learned in competition and the chance to win awards. Then a live band plays so everyone can experience live salsa music. This year we had about 300-plus students in attendance.
Then the fourth program is Fiesta 505, which is coming up at the end of April. This program is dedicated to teaching students about the meaning of Cinco de Mayo and what makes this date popular in the United States. A lot of students don’t know this, but in Mexico people don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo. A lot of people also think that Cinco de Mayo is like the Mexican Fourth of July, which it isn’t. So we have an informational session at the beginning of the program, but while we’re bringing all of these people together, we also want to celebrate the end of the school year. We bring in performers like Ballet Folklorico Celestial from Texas A&M and a Folklorico team from one of the elementary schools in Bryan. Salsa Fusion and other student organizations will come and perform, and we have contests and prizes, a DJ, dancing and a lot of food too. It’s more of a celebration, like a carnival for students.
When you end your run as chair is sounds as though you’ll be leaving your organization in pretty good shape.
Yes, I believe so. I believe CAMAC has become stronger than it was, with more relationships, more connections with more professionals, former students, former CAMACers and a strong membership that we hope is going to become even stronger next year.