Senior theses sharpen insights, skills say four members of Class of ’14

Gabriella Servello, News Editor

For the last three months, seniors across many majors have been working on their theses. Throughout this course of time much research, writing, and editing took place as they worked to complete them. With reading day finally here and Christmas break around the corner, many students have taken the time to share their thesis topics and overall experience with one of the most demanding features of the intellectual life at the college.

   Rachel Campoli, Jenn Murray, Jeff Laskey, and Grace Keating are among the hundreds of seniors that were required to write a thesis this semester. Although they acknowledge the entire process to be time consuming and overwhelming at times, all admit that they are glad they wrote a senior thesis.

Campoli, a communication major, decided to write her senior thesis on children’s speech therapy apps and how they are useful to students with speech problems. She found this topic to be particularly intriguing since it linked her current major and the area in which she hopes to specialize in graduate school. As she conducted her research, Campoli discovered that there was not much information on her topic.

“I found that there is not a lot of data that has been collected about children’s apps. There have been minimal studies done with adult therapy apps. I found myself using studies that had been done with computer speech programs (instead of on personal devices). The general similarities allowed for adequate comparison and the possibility of a similar outcome with use, an improvement in speech,” says Campoli.

Jennifer Murray, an English major, wrote her thesis about the way in which Denver, the daughter of the main character in the book Beloved, develops into a heroic figure. While writing her thesis, Murray had a difficult time finding scholarly articles that supported her main point.

“Scholarly articles can be tricky. There are many articles that will appear to back your point but in the end they may actually work against you in your paper. You have to be discerning of the articles you use,” says Murray.

Professor Gary Bouchard, chair of the English department, offers these sentiments about the English Senior Seminar: “The intention of Senior Seminar in the English Department is…to engage seriously and substantively with a selected text and a body of criticism in a way that they cannot do in their other classes…”

Jeff Laskey, a politics major, focused on the Russian weapons trade in countries currently involved in civil war, such as Syria and Sudan. He chose this topic because of his interest in Russian politics and current affairs. After months of research, Laskey was intrigued with what he discovered.

“My data found that during the Sudanese war in Darfur and Syrian civil war directly after a ceasefire was put into place, there would be a flood of weapons tech from Russia, which resulted in the ceasefire failing and the continuation of the civil wars,” explains Laskey.

Grace Keating, also a politics major, looked at the ways in which The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report, two “comedic ‘infotainment’ shows” critiqued hard news. Keating has enjoyed watching these shows for several years, but she never imagined that her professors would allow her to write her thesis on them.

“I found that the two shows do indeed critique the news as a genre. I found lots of things I didn’t expect to find as well, which made it interesting,” says Keating.

Although these four members of the Class of 2014 have different majors, all agree that the thesis writing process was a valuable part of their education at Saint Anselm College.