Honors Seniors Cross the Goal Line: Senior Showcase 2021

Posted on July 12, 2021 by Samantha Oyler
Samantha Oyler

  • Ruby Staten
  • Trinh Le and Kathy Cooke
  • Marianna Oditt and Kathy Cooke


For nearly twenty years, the Honors Senior Showcase has been a display of students’ dedication to education, academia, and their theses that have been four years in the making. Despite the ongoing nature of the pandemic, the Honors College persisted in order to give the students a deserved celebratory program and sendoff. This year, the showcase was held in football’s outdoor Jaguar Training Center adjacent to the Hancock Whitney Stadium. At the conclusion of a year filled with what felt at times like endless Zoom meetings, the in-person presentation was a relief to all who attended. The open location also allowed for everyone to experience comfortable, spring weather together before the inevitable arrival of a hot Mobile summer. 

Nearly 60 seniors came to present their work this year, all bearing large posters conveying summaries of their thesis projects. Everyone in attendance, including students, mentors, and family members, was welcome to walk through the aisles and peruse the displays. Each senior stood with their work and answered any questions of passersby, giving them the opportunity to expound upon what they could fit on the paper. Mentors and students alike all had the chance to learn something from the presenters, keeping in line with the emphasis of unending learning opportunities encouraged in the Honors College.

The work on display varied greatly in topic since every student’s thesis project stemmed from their major. Subjects ranged from the assembly of strains of Staphylococcus epidermidis and Staphylococcus hominis (Cana Brown) to the roles of early modern German women outside the home (Abigayle Edler) to student perceptions of Title IX regarding male sexual assault (Lindy Pilkington) to the needs of religious volunteers working with students with disabilities (Merritt Vise). Senior Tia Nickens – whose own thesis was on “The Impact of Alabama State Standards on Teacher Academic Freedom with Respect to COVID-19” – shared that she “loved being around like-minded people that all [had] such different projects” and that the process helped her “prepare for [her] research down the line.”

Following the poster session, all of the participants gathered together (socially distanced of course) to watch the seniors receive various forms of commendation for their work. As each student’s name was called, they made their way to be hooded and given a medallion by their mentor. During each hooding, Dr. Cooke shared notes written for the students from their mentors. Senior Lex McKinnell said that “having personalized letters from our mentors read aloud was really the cherry on top; it was something so special and unique that I will never forget in my academic career.” And even better – students were allowed to keep these written notes as additional tokens of appreciation. 

It was overall, as usual, a celebration of the students’ hard work, each receiving well-earned praise to carry with them into the future of their academic and professional careers.

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