Student and Faculty Spotlights
Winter 2021 Wendy J Wenner Senior Thesis Award
Madison Couch was selected as the Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies (IRIS) Dept. Wendy J Wenner Senior Thesis award recipient for her work titled "A Crisis at the Border."
The Wenner award carries the name of the founding Dean of the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies and recognizes senior projects distinguished by the academic excellence. Dr. Wenner is a lifelong advocate for social justice, interdisciplinary inquiry, equity and inclusion. The committee was particularly impressed with Madison's project’s in-depth historical analysis of family separation and how this shapes current discourse around immigration.
Why I chose Liberal/Integrative Studies: It was important for me to find a program that I felt addressed a wide variety of topics, while maintaining the same themes. These themes include diversity, empathy, inclusion, and respect. The Liberal Studies/Integrative Studies program offered me that.
An important lesson or idea: Professor Rik Stevenson told me two years ago that scholars should be activists and that has stuck with me. I created my emphasis around that statement and dedicated my degree to activism.
Why I chose this topic: My fiancé is a first generation Mexican-American whose family consists of immigrants. Meeting them and getting to be a part of her community has been the most rewarding thing I have ever been a part of. I feel as though it is my responsibility to use my privilege as someone born in the United States to advocate for those risking everything to get here.
How I feel about being chosen as the winner: I feel very humbled and thankful to have been chosen for this award. This topic was incredibly hard to write about, but it is vital that we, as a society, understand the incredibly harsh reality that is the treatment of human beings at our border. Men, women, children, and infants - ripped from their families. To be recognized for the work that I have done in trying to advocate for those who have fell victim to injustices makes it all worth it, even if it touches just one person. Even if it helps just one person understand what has happened in the passed, and is still currently happening at our nations border.
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