Anna Ryan Headshot

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.