Traditional Undergraduate Students Present Research at Inaugural Celebration of Scholarship
Cornerstone University hosted its inaugural Celebration of Scholarship on Thursday, April 12. In lieu of the day’s classes, the conference-style event showcased academic research conducted by the university’s traditional undergraduate students. The schedule included 28 student paper presentations, 36 poster sessions and three musical performances.
Shawn Newhouse, vice president for traditional undergraduate academics, expressed how the new event aligns with the university’s mission as a student-focused higher learning institution.
“The Celebration of Scholarship event came to fruition as a result of conversation among faculty members last fall regarding how we might develop an opportunity to showcase the excellent academic work of our students,” Newhouse said. “So, our first Celebration of Scholarship event was just that: sharing the best of our students’ academic endeavors with all members of our institution as well as the broader community. The event demonstrates our commitment at Cornerstone to academic excellence as we empower and prepare our students to represent Christ in their vocation.”
Selected via an application process, student presenters were required to submit a proposal and secure a faculty sponsor for their project. Sarah Hiemstra (B.S. & B.A. ’19), a business administration and psychology student, was among those elected to publicly highlight academic work completed as an undergraduate; she co-presented a poster entitled “Effects of Music on Test Scores and Test Anxiety.”
“Participating in the Celebration of Scholarship was a fantastic opportunity to showcase the hard work of the past academic year,” Hiemstra said. “Having faculty, staff and fellow students inquire about my project provided a sense of community. I am thankful to attend a university that empowers students to reach their highest scholastic potential.”
For Dr. Michael VanDyke, professor of English and a leading voice in the establishment of Cornerstone’s Celebration of Scholarship, the day provided current students with new opportunities to excel as influencers for Christ while at Cornerstone.
“A more rigorous academic environment can be the avenue toward a richer and deeper fellowship with God,” VanDyke said. “We try to model scholarly activity for our students, so to see our students reflecting that modeling is a deeply satisfying experience.
“I see the student presenters this year as pioneers; they showed their peers how faith isn’t just something to integrate with their studies, it is something that can drive their academic and professional pursuits. There is also an inevitable confidence-boost when a student shares his or her work with the wider community. I wouldn’t be surprised if this event became a primary means by which students sharpened their sense of vocation and calling.”
The Celebration of Scholarship planning committee, comprised of faculty members, academic leadership staff and select university directors, represented the university’s various academic divisions. This year’s team included Dr. Michael VanDyke, professor of English; Dr. Desmond Ikegwuonu, assistant professor of music; Dr. Jonathan Marko, assistant professor of philosophical and systematic theology; Dr. Nicole McDonald, professor of psychology; Brad Porter, M.F.A., assistant professor of film production; Dr. Ryan Roberts, assistant professor of Old Testament; Emily Gratson, M.A., associate dean of assessment and student success; Dr. Shawn Newhouse, vice president for traditional undergraduate academics; Laura Walton, interim library director; and Anne Gaertner, director of employer relationships and internships.