Hastings College is celebrating excellence with Academic Showcase and Honors Convocation on Wednesday, April 28, 2021!

Academic Showcase

Find the 2021 schedule and presentations below.

Each spring, members of Alpha Chi, the collegiate all-discipline national honor society, coordinates Academic Showcase.

During Academic Showcase, students, faculty, staff, parents and community members enjoy and learn from fascinating student presentations about individual research projects, experiential learning, study abroad experiences and creative endeavors.

Academic Showcase is a chance for students to share their passions and to show off their impressive work. It also gives students a chance to engage in dialogue and discussion as they answer questions about their project.

Honors Convocation

The 2021 Honors Convocation is at 3:30 p.m. in Lynn Farrell Arena. All are welcome. Please note that face masks are required. 

The Honors Convocation video is available here.

Photos from the event are available for download here.

Academic Showcase Schedule

Synchronous Presentations (videos posted after the event)

8:00am – Rachel Schmalz — Video
American Isolationism? An Exploration of the American Newspapers and the Paris Summit of 1957

8:30am – Courtney Hanson — Video
Women Leaders as Collaborators, Builders, and Tacklers of Male-Dominated spaces

9:00am – Allison Banks and Jeremiah Cox — Video
Shop Local Initiative

9:30am – Avery McKennan — Video
Connecting to the Natural World: A Reflection on Conservation Biology Experiences

10:00am – Effy Widdifield — Video
Sex and Gender Roles in Young Adult Literature: How faulty presentation maintains stereotypes and perceptions

10:30am – Samantha Burke — Video
Exploring Title IX; The Changes and Impacts


11:00am – Emma Downing — Video
Buying Hawai’i – How the Consumer Culture of 1950’s America made Hawai’i a State

11:30am to  1:00pm – Watch Asynchronous Presentations in the Chapel

1:00pm – Caleb Osmond — Video
Design of kinetic tile through the application of piezoelectric energy harvesting

1:30pm – Samantha Burke — Video
More Than Consent: Sex and Pleasure in Young Adult Literature

2:00pm – Kiante Stuart — Video
Beyond the Borders: The International Student Experience and Intercultural Communication Competence

2:30pm – Dakotah Willems — Video
Midwestern Attitudes Towards the Displaced Population of World War II

3:30pm — Honors Convocation in Lynn Farrell Arena

Asynchronous Presentations

Rachel Schmalz — Crossing the Ocean: what it means to be a global citizen

It’s the mission of Hastings College to, in part, create concerned citizens of the world. The college is doubling down on this, providing overseas travel for all of its students. But being a global citizen is more than just traveling to the beach in France, or to the pubs in Ireland. Being a global citizen is crossing borders into new terrain — it’s learning and accepting the traditions and customs of a foreign place, it’s talking and sharing life experiences with complete strangers, and it’s stepping out of your comfort zone. I have found this out through my own travel experiences at Hastings College, and I want to share what being a global citizen has meant to me and, hopefully, inspire the future HC students to also become global citizens. As an HC student, I have been able to travel throughout Ireland, France, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland, Czechia, England, and Germany. You, too, can do this — and you very much should. It will change your life, and it will make you that better global citizen.

Emma Severson — High and Low Income Countries and the Pandemic

During the pandemic, everyone has heard about what it is like in their own country and what they have to do to fix what’s going on immediately around the. However, there are many countries around the world that are struggling with the pandemic and we haven’t bothered to hear about it. Looking at the differences between low and middle income countries versus high income countries can bring to light the problems that low and middle income countries face that we don’t have to worry about and how some organizations are trying to help.

Keaton Ludwig — Observations of a Binary Star System

Astrometric measurements on the binary star system WDS 20136+5307 were performed to find their current separation and position angle. Images of the stars were obtained from the Las Cumbres Observatory (LCO) using a 0.4-meter class telescope. The mean separation of the binary system is 5.21 arcseconds with a mean position angle of 105.63 degrees. Based on evidence from the parallax, proper motions, and orbital solution, these stars are physically interacting as an orbiting pair.

Madalyn Younger — Studies on Kumada-type cross-coupling of aryl ethers in the Cinchona alkaloids and other nitrogen heterocycles

Kumada-type coupling is an organic synthesis technique for the formation of new carbon-carbon bonds using a Grignard reagent under nickel or palladium catalysis. This research broadly focuses on performing complex coupling reactions and facilitating the creation of new aryl-aryl bonds on naturally occurring molecules featuring many different functional groups including, but not limited to, amines, alkenes, and alcohol groups, under an array of reaction conditions. Multiple synthesis reactions, including complex coupling reactions on quinine and capsaicin molecules, were purified by column chromatography, and chemical reactions were monitored by NMR spectroscopy and thin layer chromatography.

Megan Dlouhy — Cartoons Aren’t Just for Kids: Pixar’s Dive into the World of Existential Exploration

This project focuses on the Pixar company, and their use of existential themes directed at adults in their newest film, Soul. After my initial research and analysis on Pixar’s most recent film, I dived into the history of Pixar, and was able to find that Pixar has been providing existential themes in their films the entire time through a unique formula that effectively enchants the lives of children about the difficulties of adulthood. With my analysis, I have come to find that within the Pixar company, cartoons aren’t just for kids, and in fact, adults may have been Pixar’s target audience the entire time.

Sam Johnson — The human causes of zoonotic spillover: corporate greed and the origins of human-animal disease

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has seen an increased focus on public health and zoonotic spillover, or the transfer of disease between animals and humans. As COVID cases rise, so has incidents of discrimination and racism against Asian Americans. To combat the growing health threat and rising discrimination, this project offers an informative lens to create understanding of what zoonotic spillover is and the factors that make the phenomenon common place in today’s world, which include colonial business and modern agricultural practice. This project began as a paper on the history of Chinese wildlife farming for Dr. Babcock’s Survey of Environmental history class last May and ended as an informative speech for the college’s forensics team on zoonotic spillover. We must educate ourselves on how human behavior insinuates zoonotic spillover, because as The Nation of February 18, 2020 notes “outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.”

Kinser Rafert — The Aging Bear: The Effects of the Russo-Japanese War on the Imperial Russian Military

As the twentieth century dawned, the military forces of the Russian Empire were perceived as a hyper-proficient fighting force by the rest of the international community. Due to their imperialistic tendencies, these forces would come into direct confrontation with those of Imperial Japan, and, by 1905, Russia would be thoroughly disgraced, humbled at the hands of an Asiatic foe. This defeat would spur a campaign to completely reshape the core apparatus of the Russian military, and transform it into a force capable of withstanding the rigors of modern warfare. This transformation would take place over two administrations and seven years, and affect nearly all facets of the Russian military in a drastic attempt to innovate. However, all would be for naught, as forces from both beyond and within Russia would cause this attempt at reform to collapse wholesale, with little to no meaningful progress being made. The failure to reform Russia’s armies after the Russo-Japanese War would lead to the army’s disastrous performance in the First World War, where it would once again be bested at the hands of more developed military forces.

Veronica Schermerhorn — A Guide to Healthy Relationships, Ages 0-100

I believe that everyone should have access to knowledge about their bodies and how to interact with others, which is why I made “Guide to Healthy Relationships, Ages 0-100” accessible by age group. During my internship at the Nebraska Department of Education, teamwork with CARE, and classes at Hastings College, I compiled a myriad of health education standards and topics. I used them to create this booklet, which focuses on the following relationships: me and myself, me and my family, me and my friends, me and my significant other, me and strangers. Parents of young children will be able to read the guide and prepare conversations with their child about the outlined relationships; and individuals who are empowered to self-educate also have the opportunity to learn. During my presentation, I will introduce the guide and my process, and share an example of the 5 standards for one age group, once in English and then once in Spanish. I will also reflect on my motivation for writing this guide, and what I learned while putting it together.

Abigail Shaw — Dismantle the Stigma: A standard for tackling mental health in creative works

I will present on my senior capstone project, which has both scientific and creative components. My purpose with this project is to create a purely fiction story based on psychological research to accurately portray characters with heavily stigmatized mental disorders. My goal is to prove that stories surrounding mental health can be simultaneously entertaining and accurate, without exploiting the experiences of those with mental illness, and to encourage writers and artists to follow that standard from now on.

Savanah Ellis and Cassie Pine — Step In

Unfortunately, about 1 in 5 students nationwide report being bullied (U.S. Department of Education, 2019). Because we are concerned about this issue, we decided to take a novel approach to solve the problem by writing a children’s book. This book was part of a larger assignment for COMM333 (Intercultural Communication) where we researched a topic, wrote and illustrated a multicultural children’s book, and read those books to the 4th graders at Longfellow Elementary School. The meaning behind our short story is to “step up” when you see another person being bullied. We wanted to focus on eliminating stereotypes because every human is beautiful as they’re made. Teaching children about diversity and inclusion is vital to their future. With our book, we hope to help children grasp these concepts in a way that they can understand and, hopefully, reduce bullying.

Jeremiah Cox — Anti-Racism in a Racist Society: A Beginner’s How-To Guide

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, the Anti-Racism Commitment Coalition (ARCC) emerged. ARCC outlines a method to fight one of our most insidious habits: racism. ARCC offers a variety of ways to educate, inspire, and transform people into anti-racist action. I’ve had the privilege of helping to build the organization since its conception, and have coordinated events with George Floyd’s uncle, run social media marketing campaigns, and learned an enormous amount both personally and professionally. This presentation will cover what anti-racism and ARCC are, how I’ve engaged with ARCC, and how you can do the same.iety for people of all races, anti-racism emerged. Racism, non-racism, and anti-racism are often nebulous qualifiers but can be defined simply. Anti-racism means fighting racism, while racism and non-racism mean passively or actively supporting racism. Anti-racism is critical to humanity because it outlines a method to fight some of our most insidious discriminatory systems. The Anti-Racism Commitment Coalition (ARCC) emerged in response to George Floyd’s death. ARCC transforms people to live an anti-racist lifestyle by providing resources with which people can educate and better themselves. This presentation will cover what anti-racism is, how ARCC was formed, and how you can get engaged with antiracism and ARCC.

Savanah Ellis — “End of an Era” Art Installation

“End of an Era” is an installation I made for ARTH 102. The assignment objective was to research an artist and create a piece of work inspired by them. I chose Ai Weiwei, who mainly works with large installations that examine political and social issues. My project is a grave for the United States of America. The U.S. was the global superpower on and off after WWII until the early 2000s. During this time, critical shifts in power redefined the United States’ position as a global superpower. Despite this shift, the U.S. has struggled to acknowledge their new position within global politics. An example of symbolism used in this piece is white paper lilies that represent rebirth. President Biden was inaugurated in January of 2021, so that change in power also correlates to the symbolism behind rebirth. With these lilies and the title “End of an Era”, the main message is a hope for a better future as a country. 

Max Griffel – Choices, Cuils, and Counterparts

Philosopher David Lewis’s book On the Plurality of Worlds posits the idea of concrete possible worlds, which are worlds that are similar to ours and concretely existing but which differ in some way from our own. In his book Lewis also posits the idea of counterparts, individuals who exist as the same individuals in multiple possible worlds with some difference (i.e. in another concrete possible world Lewis was not a philosopher; that Lewis would be a counterpart to the Lewis in our world). In 2008 a Reddit post jokingly posited the cuil theory, named after the short-lived search engine Cuil; this “theory” suggests the cuil as a unit for measuring the levels of abstraction away from the absolute truth. I will argue that cuils can also be used to talk about changes between possible worlds and how the resulting changes affect counterparts. This may allow us to visualize the choices we make on a daily basis and the effects, both seen and unseen, of those choices.

Lyette Erin – Gendered Book Covers are a Possible Hinderance to Young Black Boys

Diversity in young adult literature has been a hot topic in the publishing industry for many years now as organisations such as ‘We Need Diverse Books’ which advocates for authors, librarians, and publishers to produce and promote diverse narratives. Although the conversation surrounding diverse content is well-documented, few have considered how young adult cover designs influence the diversity of readership, especially in terms of gender and race. Book covers are the first connection between the reader and the narrative. Young adults are often drawn to books based on the colours, images, tactile features, attractiveness, and font choice for the title. This paper analyses Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam to understand how the cover is a possible hindrance for young black boys. As a Publishing major, I used my knowledge of visual literacy to analyse the visual language of the cover of Punching the Air. Gendered book cover designs have led to the isolation of young black male readers, even from books that are written for their demographic.

Maggie Rogers – Circle Up: The Story of Community Transformation

Over the past four years, my student experience has shifted. This presentation is a summary of what came to be after I was invited to play a contributing role in developing, supporting, and sustaining a student-led community. In 2019, a group of students took the initiative to gather and respond to the need for a student-centered course that would not only introduce first-year students to the college experience, but also provide for transformative outcomes – more confidence, more connection, more care for their first community of choice. This presentation storys the impact of Fire Circle dialogues, the introduction of Circle Way practices, and experiences of students currently participating in and leading other students through CORE100. This presentation is a precursor to my Senior Capstone for my personalized program in Community Engagement and Leadership.

Olivia Nelson – Beats Per Mile

Can music be used as a tool to help runners run faster? I believe it can. I myself have always used music as a relief and as a way to distract myself from what is happening elsewhere in my life, mind, body, or field of vision. But what is it about music that causes this distraction? Can it also provide us with an energy boost or mood change that can help us perform better? Specifically, what aspects of music cause these effects? What BPM, motivations, musical styles/genres, and other factors make this possible? Beats Per Mile addresses these questions through extensive research that has shown that everything is interconnected; BPM, motivation, and musical styles. They can all work together to create the perfect conditions for an individual to improve their cadence and speed and as a result of that improvement, their overall time and performance. In Beats Per Mile I put this information into action by composing my own song designed specifically for this purpose. I then test it and reflect on my findings.