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Scholar's Day journal released with five featured students

by Kari Ashworth - News Editor
Tue, Nov 5th 2019 08:00 pm
Julie Moore (above, left) and Jessica Semon were among the five students published in the Fall 2019 edition of  The Spectrum.
Julie Moore (above, left) and Jessica Semon were among the five students published in the Fall 2019 edition of The Spectrum.

The Spectrum, a Scholar’s Day journal, relaunched on Thursday, Oct. 24, with its Fall 2019 issue. Five students’ work is published in the journal, which is available on the Digital Commons. 

Following a brief hiatus, Communications Department Chairperson Alex Lyon was asked to head The Spectrum as executive editor. 

“The Spectrum has been around for a while on campus, but it was dormant for a couple of years; it was sort of inactive because the previous editor wasn’t able to continue,” Lyon said. “And then they didn’t have anyone that stepped right in immediately, so eventually they found me and said, ‘hey, can you do this?’ so I was very happy to. I heard that there was a need and so I stepped in.”

Lyon’s role as executive editor involved sending the call out for papers, as well as revising the submitted work. The undergraduate research papers could be about any discipline or topic. Once the papers are received, faculty members give suggestions for revision. 

“We take the papers, and then send them to faculty on campus that have that area of expertise or close enough, something that’s close enough,” Lyon said. “And then those reviewers — it’s called a peer review process — those reviewers give feedback and help decide whether or not the paper’s ready for publication or if it needs more work. Usually they all need a little bit more work. And some of them just aren’t far enough along, you know, too many problems in the papers, but we still give the students feedback if they want to take the paper and keep working on and put it somewhere else.”

Papers were collected in the spring and students received their feedback at varying times. 

Senior Julie Moore, an anthropology major and a minor in interdisciplinary social research methods, submitted her piece, “An Anthropological Perspective on Issues in Myanmar and Sri Lanka: Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide of Rohingya,” and had the summer to revise the article. This included minor grammatical edits, as well as one edit that she felt made the piece much stronger.

“There was one revision that I think really helped the paper be more cohesive and understandable because I tried to write it in a way that people without prior knowledge of the subject would be able to approach it and read through it and not feel lost at any point so that they could grasp the main concepts and sort of understand what was happening without having read about the issues in Myanmar,” Moore said. “So one thing that I missed as I was writing it is I didn’t include the history of the Rohingya, which is the ethnic minority in Myanmar and so in my head as I was researching that, obviously I have that in the back of my head, like I knew who they were because I had done prior research.”

Moore’s paper stemmed from a class assignment and she presented the piece at Scholar’s Day last spring.

“I wrote the piece that was in The Spectrum a while ago,” Moore said. “I wrote it for a human rights anthropology class, and then the professor of that class suggested that I do a Scholar’s Day presentation on that and then from there I can’t remember how, I can’t remember who suggested it or how I found out about submitting that paper to The Spectrum, but it sort of all just worked out.”

Her interest in the topic stemmed from it being “repeatedly in the news,” yet no one seemed to know it was happening. 

“Just because of the genocide that occurred in Myanmar, I saw that there wasn’t a lot of people talking about it,” Moore said. “The UN did do a fact finding mission there, but people that I would talk to in my personal life when I would bring it up in a conversation, they’re like, ‘oh, my god, I had no idea that that was happening today.’ When people think of genocide and mass atrocities, they normally think of the Holocaust, which is still in our lifetime, but they think — a lot of people have this conception that like, ‘oh, like that was so horrible we would never let it happen again,’ but we have so many times and people just started talking about it.”

Another student featured in The Spectrum was senior Jessica Semon, an English major with a creative writing concentration. Her article, titled “The Epidemic Domestic Sex Trafficking of Girls: Awareness and Prevention,” was also a product of a final project. Her professor for Global Perspectives on Women and Gender, Sharon Jacobson, Ph.D., suggested Semon submit the piece for Scholar’s Day. 

Semon received feedback Memorial Day weekend and had six days to make changes, and she was grateful for the revisions. 

“I revised it multiple times, like before I presented it for Scholar’s Day, before I submitted it to The Spectrum,” Semon said. “And when I submitted it, they said, ‘we want it, but we want you to make some changes, minor changes,’ and in my opinion they were major changes, but, you know, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with editors who know more than me. And my paper did get better because of that, the things that they noticed.”

Her interest in this topic stemmed from the prevalence of the issue.

“I think — I don’t know how it is for other women, but, you know, just being a woman, and also the fact that we’re talking about children, and human rights wise, it seems like they’re the most vulnerable population there is — it just touches my emotions,” Semon said. “And through the class I learned more about human trafficking — sex trafficking — and how young [the victims] can be and how it is predominantly girls and women. But also out in the world, you’re hearing more and more about it, so it was on my mind and so I got right into it as soon as I decided that was my topic.”

Semon also did a lot of extra research that did not make the cut for the paper. Even now, she is still researching and revising her work. Semon’s work on this paper has shaped how she will approach future projects.

“The experience was encouraging and motivated me to take my writing seriously, to strive toward excellence and to believe in myself,” Semon said. 

Volume 4 of The Spectrum also features articles by Westin Harbison, Emma Wasson and Elliot Zalewski. It was released on the Digital Commons through the Drake Memorial Library as a tie in to Open Access Week, which is when the library reached 4 million downloads. 


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