Lucerna 2021 is here!

The new volume of Lucerna, the UMKC undergraduate research journal produced by the Honors College, was released at the annual Symposium on March 11. Hard copies are available in the Honors College office in Cherry Hall or the PDF can be downloaded at https://honors.umkc.edu/get-involved/lucerna/

Forty-eight students, administrators, professors, and guests attended the Lucerna Symposium via Zoom. The Symposium featured presentations by Sophie Jess on panhandlers, Yujay Masay on Civil Rights Movement photography, Anna Ryan on historic preservation in Kansas City, and Annie Spencer on Eleanor of Aquitaine.

During the Symposium, UMKC Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jennifer Lundgren spoke about her experience as an undergraduate researcher; UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal congratulated presenters; and UMKC Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Chris Liu asked presenters about the most rewarding part of their project.

The fifteenth edition of Lucerna publishes the work of ten UMKC undergraduates from different disciplines. The contributors and their topics are Samantha N. Hays, “Failing the Fight: The Historical Context of US Environmental Conservation and How Endangered Species Are Mismanaged in the Current Legislature; Sophie Jess, “Panhandlers: Why Kansas Citians Can’t (Pan)Handle Them”; Anna Ryan, “From Decreptitude to Diamonds: The Value of Preserving and Repurposing Historic Buildings in the Kansas City Area”; Lillian Taylor, “Intersex Adolescents and Medically Accepted Abuse”; Johnny Waggoner, “The Promise of Progress: Apollo and American Values”; William Burrus, “European Rail Nationalization and Income Inequality: An Empirical Analysis”; Annie Spencer, “Finding Eleanor of Aquitaine”; Yujay Masah, “Civil Rights Photography and Consensus Memory”; Kylie Brous, “The Mystery of Negative and Imaginary Logarithms”; and Gregory R. Troiani, “Thermal Constraints on Exoplanet Habitability.”

The Lucerna staff seeks submissions for the next volume of the journal to be published in March 2022. The submission deadline is May 14, 2021. For the Lucerna submission guidelines, go to https://honors.umkc.edu/get-involved/lucerna/

If you are an Honors College student who is interested in working for Lucerna next year, the executive board of the journal will accept applications for managing editor and staff positions in April. For more information, contact Editor-in-Chief Richard Schneider at umkclucerna@umkc.edu

Meet A Lucerna Author: Sophie Jess

Sophie will present her research on panhandling in Kansas City at the Lucerna Symposium on March 11. For more about Sophie’s work, keep reading.

What is your Lucerna project about?

My Lucerna project is about panhandling in Kansas City, specifically on the Country Club Plaza. I examine laws restricting panhandling as well as the attitudes of Kansas City residents towards folks who panhandle.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I grew up in Kansas City and have been visiting the Plaza since I was a little girl. I have also seen firsthand the negative attitudes some people have towards panhandlers, and it has always rubbed me the wrong way.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

One challenge of this project was examining local ordinances regarding panhandling and the constitutionality of them, which was difficult considering I don’t have a law background. It was also very important to me to be as accurate as possible, so I worked hard to make sure my arguments could be supported. I wrote this essay two years ago when I was a sophomore, so over the summer and winter of 2020 before I submitted my final draft, I had to make sure my information was still current. I tried to figure out what happened with new ordinances that were on the table when I originally wrote the essay, which can be hard to do with local legislation.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

I would say read the previous volumes of Lucerna to get an idea of what sort of essays get published. When I was a freshman, I thought it would be so cool to be published in Lucerna, but I didn’t feel like I had anything to contribute. Through my regular coursework I ended up writing two essays that I submitted and were published in Lucerna. I never would have known to submit them had I not been encouraged to do so by my professor.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I graduated last December, and I am working full-time at an inpatient mental health facility. I am also in the process of applying to graduate programs for counseling psychology. I would like to continue to work in the mental health field, and eventually earn a Ph.D. and perhaps teach at a university

Meet A Lucerna Author: Annie Spencer

Annie will present her research on Eleanor of Aquitaine at the Lucerna Symposium on March 11. For more about Annie’s work, keep reading.

What is your Lucerna project about?

My Lucerna project looks at how chroniclers wrote about Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) during and shortly after her lifetime and how current scholars utilize those chronicles to make decisions about her character.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I have always been very interested in medieval history, specifically the depiction of powerful women. Eleanor of Aquitaine was a perfect subject for this type of project since much has been written about her.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

This project required engaging with several different types of scholarship about Eleanor. The project helped me significantly with understanding the types of questions someone can ask of primary sources and how to answer those questions meaningfully. The challenges were using those primary sources in the first place, as finding reliable translations of these were difficult. Additionally, sifting through all of the chronicles and secondary literature about Eleanor to find the most influential works was a significant challenge in the beginning.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

Your faculty advisor is your best friend. Schedule meetings with them often, if you can, get their feedback and apply that feedback to the best of your ability. Having that mentor who has been through the process of writing and disseminating academic scholarship is an incredible opportunity, especially for undergraduates.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I’m currently getting my M.A. in Medieval Studies, which has always been a goal of mine. I want to go on to get a Ph.D. in a medieval field. One day, I wish to be a professor at a university teaching people how exciting the medieval period can be while also doing my own research.

Meet A Lucerna Author: Anna Ryan

Anna will present her research on historic preservation in Kansas City at the Lucerna Symposium on March 11. For more about Anna’s work, keep reading.

What is your Lucerna project about?

My Lucerna project is an investigation into historical buildings in Kansas City and the potential they hold for affecting future generations. Beginning with UMKC’s very own Scofield Hall, my writing explores how many structures and areas of historical significance have endured over the years as a direct result of their capacity to be adapted to meet changing societal needs. I argue that repurposing historical buildings has many financial and social benefits and ensures that they do not become obsolete, which could happen if they are only preserved rather than put to a new use.

Why are you interested in this topic?

This project sprang from my experiences in Scofield Hall coupled with my Anchor and Discourse classes from prior semesters. For an assignment in my Anchor 200 course, we were tasked with walking around campus and observing social and cultural elements in the buildings and people we encountered. My friend and I sat down in front of the old fireplace in the lobby of Scofield, and I was struck by how much change the mansion had experienced, as it now housed offices and classrooms instead of ballrooms and dining rooms. The juxtaposition of the antique with the functional was an aspect of Scofield that stood out to me, and from there Scofield became a microcosm for a phenomenon I began to notice in other places in Kansas City. When we were tasked with a writing assignment for Discourse 200, I wanted to do further research into historical buildings in KC, of which there is no shortage, and examine the most effective method of ensuring their survival.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

Some benefits of the project are the ways in which it has deepened my connection to and knowledge of my community and my campus. Though I’ve been in Kansas City my whole life, it’s easy to be present, but not invested, in the area’s culture or history. Doing the research for this paper has increased my appreciation for the richness of KC’s history, and it has also refined my investigation and composition skills as a student.

One of the challenges for this project was the scarcity of academic research for Kansas City specifically. While certain statistics and bits of information are relatively easy to come by, scholarly analysis of some historical buildings or cultural aspects of Kansas City is rare if not nonexistent. This research drought contributed to another more personal challenge, which was actually persisting in writing the paper. My typical writing process for most classes and assignments is usually no more than a few hours, as it becomes second nature to mechanically construct an essay that will get me a decent grade. This was the first paper in a long time that demanded my consistent investment over the course of days and weeks of writing, drafting, and revising. Striving for excellence rather than settling for mediocrity was the most rewarding challenge of the project.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

My advice would be to set your own standards of acceptability. Especially in the Honors College, I’m sure many students are familiar with what it takes to write an “A” or “B” paper. You know how much effort it will require to get the grade you want, and oftentimes that acknowledgement allows plenty of space for passivity and subsequent mediocrity. That strategy is undoubtedly effective in passing classes, but if your goal is getting published, set the bar high. Don’t neglect the writing process, and don’t neglect your own potential to craft something better than just “okay.”

What are your professional plans or goals?

Right now my plan is to maximize my time at UMKC to gain experience in the writing and editing field, establish valuable connections, and be equipped for the various paths my future career could take. I plan to graduate with my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Spanish, and from there I plan to enter the workforce in Kansas City, likely with some kind of writing-related job. I do want to note that my professional plans, while important, are not my purpose, joy, or fulfillment in life. In whatever career I end up, my goal and singular pursuit will always be to serve God and share His truth and love with other people. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the heartbeat of my life, and whether I’m writing or editing or getting published or getting another degree, that will always be my goal and reason for living.

Meet a Lucerna Author: Yujay Masah

Yujay will present her civil rights photography study at the Lucerna Symposium on March 11. For more about Yujay’s work, keep reading.

What is your Lucerna project about?

The title of my study is “Civil Rights Photography and Consensus Memory.” I address photography, the Civil Rights Movement, and consensus memory, which is the most common narrative of a time period, event, or movement. It is what we all learn in school and see in movies, and it is essentially the standard way of talking about a certain time period. In my paper, I look at how the photographs from the Civil Rights Movement inform this common narrative and our collective understanding of the movement. I look at the photos in detail, examining the contexts in which they appear and explain the narrative and visual stories they tell.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I’m interested in this topic because it is an intersection of my favorite subjects: historical photography and historical literacy. I think one of the most important things for people to know is how to understand and interpret our history, which comes in many formats from films and documentaries to books and exhibits. One of the most accessible and engaging ways to learn about history is through photographs. I think they capture people’s attention and imagination more than a lot of other vehicles for history, because they can be striking, beautiful, and thought provoking. I also think they are more accessible because photographs easy to find in our digital age and everyone understands (to some degree) how to look at a photo and understand the story it tells. In that sense, photographs can be excellent tools for teaching history. I also think that today, when Black people are demonstrating and fighting for equality, and that fight is more visible than ever thanks to social media, it’s important for people to know how to read the photos they are seeing and understand the stories they’re telling. I hope that when people read my essay that they can apply these same ideas to the photographs of contemporary activists that they see today.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

One of the biggest benefits has been having the opportunity to connect my interests in art history and history. I am really interested in the ways that art informs how we understand history and vice versa. Some of the photographs I discussed wouldn’t be the first that come to mind when you think of photography as an art form, but all photos have a place in the history of the practice, and I was able to discuss that in this project. As for challenges, a big one was keeping this paper concise. I think I could have written another ten pages about the connection between the photographs from the Civil Rights Era and the contemporary photos we see of Black Lives Matter activists. Another challenge came from the Covid-19 pandemic and getting primary sources. I think I missed out on using two or three newspapers because of shutdowns and restrictions, but ultimately, I was still able to produce a paper that I was really proud of.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

I would say that no matter what your paper is about, if it’s one you are proud of and the subject is one you are passionate about, submit the paper. The journal covers a variety of subjects  and being passionate about the paper and the subject helps you though the editing process to keep you focused on creating a paper that is really high quality.

What are your professional plans or goals?

Right now, my plans are to go to graduate school and pursue a Master’s degree in Library Science and a Master’s degree in US history. I want to learn how to make information, especially historical information, more accessible to the public so that more people can engage with photographs, journals, newspapers, and other primary sources. I also want to study and write more about the late twentieth century in this country. I hope to be able to work in libraries and museums in the future to make history more readily available and relatable to the public and to be the person who can help guide people to the resources and materials that can help answer their questions about the past.

Jonaie Johnson Wins Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Honors College student Jonaie Johnson won the Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was recognized at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management’s 35th Annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards event in November 2020.

Jonaie is a Dean’s List business student and athlete at UMKC majoring in entrepreneurship. She started her company, Interplay, when she was accepted into the E-Scholars program. Interplay is developing an interactive, automated dog crate. Last year, Jonaie was a starter on the UMKC Roos Western Athletic Conference champion women’s basketball team.

 

 

 

National Transfer Student Week: Interview with Daisy Garcia Montoya

In honor of National Transfer Student Week, the Honors College is highlighting Daisy Garcia Montoya. Daisy discusses her journey from student at Metropolitan Community College – Penn Valley to Communications and Political Science major at UMKC, shares advice to transfer students and faculty, and delves into her goals after graduating UMKC.

Where did you transfer from?

I transferred from MCC – Penn Valley.

What brought you to UMKC?

I’m currently a Henry W. Bloch Legacy Scholar. I spent 3 semesters earning my associate degree at MCC-Penn Valley then transferred to UMKC as a Legacy Scholar. I also have lived in KC and was already excited about UMKC while being at MCC, so it all worked out perfectly.

What has your experience at UMKC been like since you transferred?

The first semester was really rough. I loved my classes and UMKC’s campus, but I didn’t know how to get involved. I came in as a spring semester transfer, so I didn’t see many inclusive activities like transfer fairs or Union Fest. It took a while to find the organizations I wanted to be involved in even though I knew that’s what I wanted to do. However, midway through my first semester, I stumbled across the Multicultural Student Affairs and their office. They sponsored and held a lot of events on campus, so I started going to those. Eventually, I also got involved with the Latinx Student Union and the Honors College. After that, I became really involved with UMKC’s community and Kansas City overall.

What advice would you give to other transfer students at UMKC?

It might seem a little rough at first, but there are so many organizations on campus to be involved with and you’re bound to find at least one you’re comfortable with. The Latinx Student Union is the organization I’m mainly involved with but I’m also a part of the College Democrats and HerCampus. COVID might make it a little difficult, but also go to virtual fairs and events because those are options as well. Look through RooGroups as well! You can see different events and organizations on campus. I did this even before I transferred to UMKC because I couldn’t wait to get involved. Instagram’s a good option too. A lot of organizations have an Instagram page. If you just type UMKC in the search bar, a lot of them will come up. You get a sense of what events they put on and what they stand for.

What advice would you give to university faculty and staff to help transfer students acclimate to UMKC?

The faculty and staff should tell the transfer students the resources that are available on campus. I feel that students don’t know about the counseling services UMKC offers, programs like the Honors College, groups like the Multicultural Student Affairs, and students that are a part of communities as a veteran or LGBTQIA+. Checking in with transfer students and asking them what they need also helps. Connecting them with their interests goes a long way. As a transfer student, you’re new to this atmosphere but sometimes you need someone to come to you first.

What do you hope to achieve both personally and professionally here at UMKC and beyond?

One of my personal goals was to be involved with the Latinx Student Union. Because this group made me feel really welcomed, my mission is to give that feeling to other students, whether they’re transfer students or freshmen and outgoing or shy. As a Communications and Political Science major, I hope to become a journalist. However, I also really love nonprofit work, so working at a nonprofit here in Kansas City that helps students or under-served communities would be how I would continue my professional career.

Any last bits of advice?

Don’t give up and keep going. UMKC is a really welcoming place with a lot of opportunities, whether it’s getting involved or getting connected with other professionals in the greater Kansas City area. You’ll meet a lot of friends and make a lot of memories.

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Meet a Lucerna Author: Grace Reeseman

What is your Lucerna project about?

My project initially was about designing and implementing a sun-tracking solar panel system. I wanted to make a solar panel system that would “follow” the sun throughout the day and therefore be at a more effective angle to collect energy. To do this, I used a light dependent resistor (LDR) and a servo motor. An LDR is a resistor that is inversely proportional to incident light intensity. The motor moved the panel from 0 to 180 degrees every 15 minutes, and voltage values were taken at each degree and stored in an array. The maximum voltage in the array, and the associated position, was found using a program in Arduino (using C++). The servo motor adjusted the solar panel to the position at which the voltage was at a maximum. As the project progressed, however, certain problems arose with saturation of the photocell. In response, I examined the effects of using a filter over the LDR in this system.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I was interested in this topic because it seemed like a simple way to increase solar panel efficiency. Renewable energy sources are underused, and I think a way to make them more appealing is to increase their efficiency.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

The challenges of this project were mainly in the coding and building of the system. I had never written code in C++ before, used an Arduino, or built a circuit of this magnitude. Hence, the whole process was a learning experience for me, which I viewed as a major benefit.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

My advice for students is to get involved in doing research that you enjoy, take really good notes (even on things you are sure you’ll remember), and don’t leave all of your writing for the end.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I am currently a Mathematics and Physics double major. I am also currently enrolled in an accelerated Mathematics degree program which will allow me to obtain a master’s degree two semesters after graduating with my bachelor’s degrees. Then I plan to attend graduate school and obtain a Ph.D. in Physics. I aspire to do research in theoretical physics.

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Meet a Lucerna Author: Bwaar Omer

What is your Lucerna project about?

My project explores the effects of the German Third Reich on some of the most important composers of the time. I looked into how Adolf Hitler and his regime used these composers to further their goals. I specifically focused on Kurt Weill, Ludwig van Beethoven, Richard Wagner, Anton Bruckner, and Richard Strauss because they were the most prominent during the Third Reich. The legacies of these composers were all impacted differently and some were unscathed. There are many opinions about these composers’ standings and whether or not some of them should be shunned by the music community because of affiliation with the Third Reich.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I was initially interested in this topic due to a discussion in my European Cultures, Histories & Ideas class in which we talked about Beethoven’s contribution to the world of music. One of the professors, Dr. William Everett, asked if we knew about Beethoven’s music during the Third Reich. Then he asked why nobody seemed to be bothered that many of Beethoven’s compositions were used to empower and motivate the Third Reich. The obvious answer to this question would be that Beethoven wasn’t alive at that time, so there was no way for him to confirm or deny if he supported the beliefs of Hitler. However, this piqued my interest, because through research I was able to find that the music of some composers was treated differently after the atrocities of the Third Reich. All of this led me to research more and write a paper on the topic.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

Some benefits were learning more about something I am interested in and interacting with professors from different majors. As a biology major, I don’t get many opportunities to sign up for classes that involve culture, but this project has given me the chance to delve deeper into European culture and history. Working with Dr. Everett and Dr. Scott Baker was also great because they were amazing professors and very helpful in the writing process. My biggest challenge while taking on this project was definitely the sea of opinions that I had to read through to find the facts that were necessary to write an  effective research article.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

My advice is to make sure that you find something that you are truly interested in. It is really difficult to spend time and effort on something that you won’t find intriguing in the long run. Also, I advise them to not get discouraged, because it can be hard to find information on your specific topic, but don’t stop trying.

What are your professional plans or goals?

I plan to earn my bachelor’s degree in Biology in May 2020 and hope to get my Master’s Degree in Biology by the end of next year. This summer I will be taking the MCAT and I hope to get into medical school in order to become a doctor.

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Meet a Lucerna Author: Maggie Agee

What is your Lucerna project about?

My Lucerna project is about the mental health struggles that many kids in the LGBTQIA+ community face as well as ways in which schools, parents, and peers can help. The main area of concern is the impact of ignorance and homophobia on healthy identity development and their influence on anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation in youth. This essay examines how the lack of inclusive education and positive role models can weaken a child’s spirit, and how poor support from family and peers can lead to homelessness or conversion therapy programs that can be traumatic. In addition, I explore potential methods for mediating the stress on queer youth and promoting acceptance, such as family therapies and queer inclusive lesson plans. The goal is ultimately to educate people about a problem that typically goes under the radar and to let people in the LGBTQIA+ community know that they matter, and things can get better.

Why are you interested in this topic?

I’m interested in this topic because it is rarely spoken about, especially in academic circles. A lot of discussion of queer-related topics are restricted to adults, and they often revolve around sexual attraction or gender reassignment procedures. I noticed this when I was doing my research because there were very few scholarly articles about identity development and the effects of homophobia on children. I imagine it’s because there is a common belief that sexual orientation and gender identity are not established until one is older or that they shouldn’t be in the conversation at all because it’s supposedly inappropriate for children to talk about it. However, this is far from the truth. First of all, sexual orientation and gender identity are much more than sex itself. There are emotions and elements of expression in both gender and sexuality that are present from a young age and that shape the type of person they grow up to be. While these things are fluid and can change as one ages, I think it’s important to talk about it when people are young because in all the examples I’ve seen people went through years of confusion and fear because they didn’t know who they were or what they wanted. All they knew was that the feelings they were having were deemed wrong by society, and it caused a lot of internal torment. I think that the stigma surrounding these topics limits people from being 100% true to themselves, and it also limits our understanding of differences in human experience. For me, this project is meant to open up the conversation about such topics so that we can break this stigma and promote not only tolerance but acceptance and encouragement.

What have been the benefits and challenges of this project?

I’d say that one of the challenges was definitely finding sources related to the material I wanted to cover. I had to do a lot of digging, and there are a lot of individual stories about people who have been through tough situations, which I think both helps and hurts my argument. Emotional appeals help strengthen my point that this is a problem deserving of urgent attention, but I also understand that scholarly information and statistics is important for credibility. Balancing the two was difficult at times, but I’m happy with the result. I’d also say that it was a challenge to keep my own experiences out of the equation because it is a topic that hits close to home for me. That said, I’ve definitely benefitted from this work as well. It’s been inspiring for me because I see now that there are realistic solutions available to make life a bit easier for queer kids. I’ve also been given an opportunity to explore my own identity and experiences a little better which has made me more confident for the long run.

What is your advice for students who are interested in publishing their work in Lucerna?

My advice to anyone that is interested in potentially publishing their work in Lucerna or any publication really is to start early and give yourself time to develop your ideas. I began work on this project in Fall of 2018 in a Discourse class, and I continued to work on it under my teacher’s mentorship in Spring 2019, and on my own in Fall 2019. It has been a long journey, and I’ve made a lot of changes along the way, but I’m much happier with it than I was with my first draft. I think that the more effort you put into it, the more satisfied you feel about your work and the prouder you feel about being given an opportunity to share it. I’d also like to advise people to not hold back or be afraid to showcase bits of themselves in their work. It makes it unique, and it can strengthen the argument because it shows passion and a commitment. For me, I want people to see my commitment and passion for social justice, so that’s something I’d encourage others to do as well.

What are your professional plans or goals?

My career goals are to attend graduate school and work towards earning a PhD in clinical psychology. My current plan is to go into gerontology and work with older adults. While I am not interested in working with children, I think that the things I have discussed in this project like identity development and formation of healthy self-concepts at a young age have long-lasting effects that may be evident in some of my adult patients. I also think sexual orientation and gender identity fall into the area of intersectionality, which is crucial to consider when trying to figure out the best way to help a person. I need to be able to think about things from their point of view which means taking into account individual struggles as well as their resources for coping with those struggles.

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