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Cadets Present Research, Win Recognition

Institute Report, November 2009

Cadet Even Rogers ’10 received the Roger Rollin Memorial Prize for the best student essay, graduate or undergraduate, on a topic in American Studies at the annual joint meeting of the Popular Culture Association in the South and American Culture Association in the South in Wilmington, N.C., Oct. 1-3. This was the second time Rogers has won the award and the first time in the history of the organization that a student has won the Rollin Award twice.

Again this year, Rogers’ submission was the unanimous choice of the readers who reviewed the nominated essays. The presentation, “The Modern Pilgrim: Portraits on the Road to Santiago de Campostela,” was illustrated by photographs that Rogers, an English major, made when he participated in the pilgrimage this past June as part of a project funded by the Summer Undergraduate Research Initiative.

Also presenting research were Cadet Alex Houser ’10, a biology major, and Vince Abruzzese ’09, a history major who is now a graduate student at George Washington University. Their papers were written originally for an honors seminar, “Rhetoric of Scientific Discourse” taught by Col. Christina McDonald, Institute director of writing and professor of English.

In introducing the panel, McDonald’s own presentation, “Fostering Experiential Learning through Interdisciplinary Writing and Research,” discussed how VMI’s enrichment programs in honors, writing, and undergraduate research collaborate to promote dynamic interdisciplinary inquiry.

“Those who attended the panel presentation were most impressed by the cadets’ topics,” said McDonald. “All three spoke about subjects that likely would not have have emerged from courses in their majors. One presented a historical perspective on the emergence of a national focus on recycling, for instance. Another analyzed the ‘rhetoric’ used in the institutionalization of our Undergraduate Research Initiative. These are the kinds of interesting questions cadets will investigate when they can cross disciplinary boundaries. It’s rewarding to see.”

Founded in 1971 and including more than 400 members from all disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, PCAS/ACAS is the largest of the regional associations dedicated to scholarship in popular and American cultural studies.