While many students look forward to summer as a time to relax and regroup, several students from The W used their time to explore subjects they hope will lead to future careers.
All say their experiences gave them a deeper understanding of research methods and their significance, as well as hands-on experience that will expand their knowledge.
Christian Friar of Booneville, a senior history major at The W, documented runaway slave advertisements at the Columbus- Lowndes Public Library.
By using microfilm and analyzing pre-Civil War era Mississippi and Alabama newspapers, Friar dug into the two states' histories to see how slave owners caught their runaway slaves.
"Friar pored over the more than 20 pre-1865 county newspapers both on microfilm and in hard-copy format. She created a transcription of the advertisements' text as well as captured a scanned digital image of each entry," said Mona Vance, archivist in the Local History Department at Columbus-Lowndes Public Library.
The local project is in conjunction with a larger research project called "Documenting Runaway Slaves" at the University of Southern Mississippi. The W is collaborating to help document newspaper advertisements placed by slave masters seeking the capture and return of runaway slaves.
Friar believes that the views on slavery could change if more of the unanswered questions were being answered. She feels that most research on slavery fails to ask the questions of the how and why.
"Yes, we do know the date in which slavery was introduced into this county and related facts because that is what's being taught, but what we fail to realize is that no matter how tired we are of a topic like slavery, there are questions that have not been answered," she said.
"With history, I feel as though we always look back to help understand how an event has shaped us as a society and that regardless of how one views slavery, it is a cornerstone piece in American history," Friar added.
Vance said slavery remains a touchy subject, but researching these advertisements can help shape national perceptions today.
From this internship, Friar is inspired to continue her research into slavery. "This project was important because it sheds more light not only on an important topic such as slavery, but how society was at that time."
The project will gather these documents and organize them into a full-text searchable online resource for academic researchers, genealogists and anyone who wants to learn more about this time period.
Another W student spent her summer exploring a molecular subject important to wound repair. The Molecular Biology department at Princeton University runs a summer research program that hosts Princeton's rising seniors as well as students from other universities who are competitively selected.
Tshering Lama Sherpa, a senior from Nepal majoring in biology with a minor in mathematics, was one of those chosen. She studied under Dr. Jean Schwarzbauer, associate chair of Molecular Biology at Princeton. "Tesh came to my lab eager to learn and excited about biological research," said Dr. Schwarzbauer.
Lama Sherpa's summer project was to investigate the role of the extracellular matrix in adult stem cell differentiation into myofibroblasts.
"Myofibroblasts are important in wound repair, an area with which Tesh had no prior experience. Thus, I was very impressed with the clarity with which she understood her project and also with how quickly she picked up new techniques," added Dr. Schwarzbauer.
The Department of Theatre had four students at two productions at professional theatre companies this summer.
Tommy Parsons, a senior from Ethelsville, Ala., worked at Tecumseh! Outdoor Drama in Chillicothe, Ohio, as a sound engineer and intern and Chris Ambrose, a senior from Durant, performed as an actor.
Lee Crouse, visiting assistant professor, said, "While at Tecumseh! Outdoor Drama, our students had the opportunity to put into practice their educational training in real-world situations. It is difficult to bring the same energy and focus night after night, six nights a week, for a total of 74 shows.
As one student told me last summer, 'I get it now,' he said. I asked him what he meant. His reply, 'I understand why you, Peppy and David have us work the way we do.' I took that as a great compliment to our faculty."
In Banner Elk, N.C., at the Lees-McRae Summer Theatre, Mary Wildsmith, a senior from Damascas, Md., worked as a stage manager for "The 39 Steps" and as assistant stage manager for "Chicago" and "Singin' in the Rain." Also, Casey Duke, a senior from Corinth worked on the lighting crew for "Chicago," "The 39 Steps" and "Singin' in the Rain."
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