Convocation

2014 Calvin College Honors Graduates

Honors Grads '13

 

The entire convocation ceremony was recorded. To view, click here. Prof. Jason Van Horn's speech, Paola Fuentes's speech, and the Convocation program are available online as well. Feel free to click on the links to read the full texts. Congratulations to our graduates and their families! We are proud of you and the work you accomplished! We are praying for God's richest blessings upon you as you embark on your careers. Be sure to keep in touch! 

Christine Bennett (Hong Kong, China) is graduating with honors in History as well as a major in Greek. Her senior thesis focuses on the past 30 years of Hong Kong history through the lens of Cantonese triad films. After graduating from Calvin, Christine plans on returning to China to teach English or work at a non-profit in China before considering graduate studies.   

Joel Betts (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Biology as well as a major in International Development and minors in both Environmental Studies and Chemistry. In 2012, Joel did agro-ecological research under Professor Dornbos at Pierre Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings, MI. Last summer, he also researched the ecological effects of dam removal through Au Sable Institute, and is returning next summer to help lead the research team there.  After graduating from Calvin, Joel will be seeking internships abroad in sustainable development, possibly with ECHO, Global Water Watch, or World Renew. Later, he hopes to attend graduate school in sustainable development and stream/agricultural ecology.

Allison Bouma (Indian Head Park, IL) is graduating with honors in Psychology as well as a major in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She has completed independent study research on the effect of auditory distractors on visual attention under Professor Tellinghuisen. She developed and conducted an experiment to evaluate changes in reaction time and the various factors related to the impact of stimuli. After graduation, Allison plans to continue her academic and clinical studies in the speech pathology master’s program at Calvin. She hopes to work in the areas of speech pathology and counseling for children and young adults with neurocognitive communication impairments and their families.

Drew K. Brandsen (Holland, MI) is graduating with honors in Engineering, Electrical and Computer Concentration, as well as a minor in Computer Science. He has researched and implemented an unmanned aerial quadcopter system with Robert Hoff for Professor Kim. The knowledge acquired with this research proved very helpful for his Senior Design Project with his fellow teammates. After graduating, Drew plans to begin his career in electrical engineering and may pursue a master’s degree in a few years.

Julie D. Busscher (Hudsonville, MI) is graduating with honors in Spanish as well as a major in K-12 Education and minors in history and linguistics. Her thesis, which she worked on with Professor Clevenger, analyzes the Spanish novel Nada, showing how it depicts feminism during the era of Francisco Franco. She also spent time working with Professor Bierling on her Cuban Oral History Project. After graduating from Calvin, Julie plans to seek a Spanish teaching position in the Grand Rapids area.

Gregory G. Bylsma (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in both Spanish and Psychology, as well as a major in Philosophy and a minor in Math. He studied the role of the Catholic Church on the prominence and future direction of liberation theology. He also investigated the implications of varying theories on the mind-body connection. His future plans are uncertain but will definitely involve less paper writing and more travel.

Erica J. Chan (Buffalo Grove, IL) is graduating with honors in Physics as well as minors in Chinese, Optics, and Mathematics. Her research includes studying the biophysics of lipid-sugar-water interactions under Professor Harper at Calvin and distributing a frequency stabilized laser via fiber optics at Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Erica plans to work for several years to gain more experience, with the possibility of teaching English in China, before earning a master’s degree.

Spencer Cone (Chelsea, MI) is graduating with honors in History as well as a major in Social Studies. Over the last year, Spencer worked closely with Professor Howard in researching the American Naval involvement in the Smyrna Refugee crisis. This research attempts to reconcile the disciplines of refugee studies and history by developing a refugee centered retelling of the destruction of Smyrna in 1922. After graduating from Calvin, Spencer plans to pursue a master’s degree in refugee studies.

Sara J. Conrad (Stevensville, MI) is graduating with honors in Special Education with a concentration in teaching students with cognitive impairment, as well as a minor in Integrated Science and Math Education. Sara has researched how students with intellectual disabilities are included in K-12 classes like art, music, and physical education. After observing classes and interviewing teachers across the state of Michigan, thanks to funding from the Kuyer’s Institute for Christian Teaching and Learning, she wrote a guidebook for educators in these fields, connecting specific strategies to overcome challenges while encouraging further inclusion for all learners in these courses. Sara is currently applying to law schools and hopes to work in the areas of educational policy, disability advocacy, public service, and special education reform.

Jennifer Cuffman (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Literature, as well as a major in Philosophy and a minor in Art History. Working with the excellent Professor Zwart, she completed her honors thesis, entitled “Looking Backward, Moving Forward: Sentimentality in Infinite Jest,” which examines the way the novel by David Foster Wallace revives sentimental philosophies to overcome 19th- and 20th-century roadblocks to empathy. Jennifer plans to eventually attend graduate school for English Literature.

Kellan Day (Wayland, MI) is graduating with honors in Religion and a minor in Gender Studies. Her honors research involved creating a conversation between liturgical moral formation and a theology of race. By putting two theologians (Smith and Bantum) in conversation with one another, she sought to show that embodied particularities (i.e. race, gender) are an integral part of our formation as disciples of Christ. The project attempted to show that while liturgical formation is incredibly essential for the church, the church must acknowledge both the diversity of the communal body and the specificity of the individual body. After graduating from Calvin, Kellan plans to find employment at a non-profit or church and hopes to attend seminary next year in order to complete a Master of Divinity.

Megan DeMaagd Rodriguez (Holland, MI) is graduating with honors in Nursing. Her honors work focused on the potential for plant-based nutrition to impact health promotion and protection. Megan wrote papers about the nutritional details of a plan-based diet and about the impact of gardening on children’s fruit and vegetable intake and preferences. Following graduation, Megan will begin a Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

Brett De Vries (Holland, MI) is graduating with honors in Chemistry (with ACS certification), as well as a major in German. His honors work, which included a seminar presentation, focused on using computational chemistry to study structural features of fluorinated derivatives of acetylacetone under Professor Muyskens. He also researched and presented on immigration in contemporary Germany under Professor Roberts. After earning his degree from Calvin, Brett plans to enter the workforce in a Chemistry related profession.

Nicholas P. DeVries (Mossley, Ontario) is graduating with honors in Biology. For his thesis, he investigated Tropical Diseases. He looked at the in vitro antimalarial activity of Carica Papaya leaf aqueous extracts against Plasmodium falciparum and Comparison of Microscopy and qPCR to determine parasitemia. He thoroughly appreciated the knowledge and encouragement he received from Professors DeJong, Nyhof, and Warners. After graduation, Nicholas plans to attend medical school to become a family physician.

Kristin Fidler (Sussex, WI) is graduating with honors in History, as well as a major in German and a minor in International Relations. Her thesis focused on the Catholic Church’s role in the post-WWII secular German and Austrian states. After graduating from Calvin, Kristin will possibly teach abroad or attend graduate school for Library Science at the University of Wisconsin.

Paola Fuentes (San Jose, Costa Rica) is graduating with honors in International Development Studies, as well as a minor in Business. Her research paper focused on the effectiveness of the local church in community development initiatives and poverty alleviation. After graduation from Calvin, Paola hopes to work with a nonprofit or non-governmental organization that focuses on the areas of small business development or youth empowerment as ways to bring sustainable development in developing countries.

Phillip Fynan (Santa Rosa, CA) is graduating with honors in Engineering with an Electrical and Computer concentration. In the fall of 2012, he researched with Professor Harper about how the efficiency of wireless power transfer depends on the separation and orientation of the transmitter and receiver, finding that wireless power, used to charge consumer electronics and medical implants, suffers from poor efficiency when the antennas are improperly orientated. After completing his studies at Calvin, Phillip plans to obtain a doctorate degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Emily K. Golz (North Muskegon, MI) is graduating with honors in Chemistry, as well as a minor in Mathematics. Her research focused on modeling aqueous solutions of methylene blue, an organic cationic dye. A powerful mathematical analysis technique was used to model UV-Vis absorbance data. After graduation, Emily will work as a chemist at Seal Bond in Spring Lake.

Madeleine M. Goodman (Columbia, MO) is graduating with honors in History, as well as a major in Chinese and a minor in Archeology. Working under Professor Berglund, her history thesis compares the Imperial Russian advancements into the Central Asian steppe lands against the Qing Dynasty’s expansion into Tibet, Xinjiang, and Mongolia. Her work will focus on how these powers consolidate authority and influence in Central Eurasia. After graduating from Calvin, Madeleine plans to return to the country of Jordan to continue her work at an active archeology site and take an immersive 6 week Arabic language class. Following this, she intends to focus on continuing her Chinese and archeology studies at the graduate level at a university in China.

Thomas Graves (Delaware, OH) is graduating with honors in Philosophy. His research project defended conciliationism from contemporary epistemological critiques. According to conciliationism, the rational thing for a person to do in most cases when she disagrees with someone of similar abilities to her is to suspend judgment of the issue at hand. Professor Corcoran advised him on this project. After graduating from Calvin, Thomas hopes to attend Fordham University’s philosophy doctorate program.

Tim Halstead (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Psychology. His research project with Professor Tellinghuisen focused on how people are cognitively affected by auditory distractors during a visual task. After earning his degree from Calvin, Tim will participate in Wayne State’s clinical psychology doctorate program.

Kylin K. Hamann (Paradise Valley, AZ) is graduating with honors in both Biochemistry and Chinese. She is grateful for four years of research in the Biochemistry department alongside Professor Sinniah, and they are both excited about their recent publication, involving the spectrometric analysis of mercury content in skin lightening products, that was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Ky has enjoyed continuing her pursuit of fluency in Mandarin at Calvin, and her Chinese thesis focuses on the integration of Chinese traditional medicine with Western medical techniques and practices. Ky looks forward to getting married in June and then moving to California, where she will attend Loma Linda school of Dentistry.

Katie M. Heille (Minnetonka, MN) is graduating with honors in Nursing, as well as a minor in Psychology. She is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor’s Society and has presented at Sigma Theta Tau conferences as well as the Midwest Nursing Research Society national conference, where her presentation won first place. Her honors work examined the medicinal qualities of herbal teas. Katie is also the leading author on a paper about the preventative health benefits of lemongrass tea, that is currently being prepared for publishing. She is also working on a research study with Professor Ayoola about women’s health education. After graduation, Katie plans to spend one year as a public health nurse in Malawi then plans to attend University of Minnesota to earn a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree.

Rachel A. Hekman (Plano, TX) is graduating with honors in History, as well as a minor in Religion. Rachel was a McGregor Fellow in the summer of 2013; she worked with Professor Loren Haarsma on a project entitled “Theology of Original Sin,” in which she studied historical Christian conceptions of original sin and human origins. Rachel wrote her honors thesis with Professor Bratt on women diarists’ conceptions of themselves in church and Southern society before and during the Civil War. After graduation, Rachel plans to obtain a master’s degree in History at Western Michigan University before pursuing a doctorate in American History.

Kristen Herder (Portage, MI) is graduating with honors in Engineering, with International and Electrical/Computer concentrations, as well as a minor in Mathematics. For her honors work, Kristen built a functional anti-gravity machine and researched Bluetooth Communication, Cosmology and the Big Bang Theory, and the intranasal delivery of medication through magnetic field manipulation. Her senior design project involved the development of a home laser tag system. Following graduation, Kristen will be moving to Madison, Wisconsin, where she has accepted a position at Epic Systems.

Mary Hoogstra (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Psychology, as well as a major in Spanish and a minor in Sociology. Mary’s honors thesis was an independent study with Professor Riek on intergroup bias and forgiveness: “How do group apologies impact perceived threat and attitudes towards an out group?” She examined how an apology from a group changes measures of threat, infrahumanization and general attitudes through experimental measures. Following graduation, Mary will be attending graduate school for a master’s in Social Work and hopes to be able to use that education to work in advocacy.

Sarah E. Hubbel (Alto, MI) is graduating with honors in both Spanish and Psychology. Sarah wrote an honors thesis reviewing the Honduran education system and evaluated its effectiveness while suggesting ideas on how to improve it. She also wrote an honors paper about the Garifuna language and discussed whether or not it would become extinct, with steps on how to prevent or slow down its extinction. She also constructed an experiment to test how ethnicity affects attraction. The study was set up to compare what U.S. men would find attractive vs. what Chinese men would find attractive. The purpose was to find which factors of attractiveness would vary by culture and which factors are universal. Currently, Sarah is planning to attend University of Georgia to study Romance languages with the hope of obtaining a doctorate degree.

Wesley Jones (Inverness, IL) is graduating with honors in Psychology. Wesley assisted Professor Jones in conducting research about how jurors perceive guilt and coercion. Specifically, they looked at how camera angle and inconsistent evidence during a confession affected guilt and coercion. He has also completed honors projects on ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder and introversion. Wesley plans to take a year off and work before applying to graduate school for a doctorate degree in clinical neuropsychology.

Mark Juel (Minnetonka, MN) is graduating with honors in Music, as well as a minor in Biochemistry. Mark has completed several independent study honors projects, the most recent of which focused on the connection between Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Aida and famous string bassist Giovanni Bottesini. His other honors work includes presentations on the history of sound recording technology and performing as a soloist with the Calvin Orchestra. Mark intends to work for a year before applying to medical school, with the intent of becoming a surgeon.

Sarah E. Klanderman (Mokena, IL) is graduating with honors in both Mathematics and French. Under the supervision of Professor Moseley, she focused on Galois Theory, an advanced topic in abstract algebra, by translating the original work of the French mathematician, Évariste Galois. With the help of Professor Fetzer, she also wrote and presented on “Récit et histoire dans Suite française d’Irène Némirovsky.” Sarah plans to attend graduate school in Mathematics in order to earn her doctoral degree and become a professor.

Kai Koopman (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Writing, as well as a major in Art History. Under the tutelage of Professor Klatt, Kai completed a short poetry manuscript titled “Meridians.” Additionally, he wrote an accompanying essay analyzing four contemporary American poets’ use of “home” as a theme, tracing their influence on his own writing. He is grateful for the readership of his advisor, Professor Rienstra, on both documents as well. Following graduation, Kai plans to live and work in Grand Rapids.

Chloe M. Kosters (Prior Lake, MI) is graduating with honors in Business, as well as a major in English and a minor in Latin. Chloe researched and recommended a Human Resource Information System for tracking and scheduling student employees at Calvin’s Commons Dining Hall. After graduating, Chloe intends to remain in the area and pursue a career in human resources with a national company based in Grand Rapids.  

Chengbi Liu (Beijing, China) is graduating with honors in Geography, as well as a major in Sociology. Chengbi worked with Bill SooHoo and Professor VanHorn in the geography department to create an online application that helps users investigate Plaster Creek Watershed in Grand Rapids. He wrote a summary report, did a department presentation, and presented a poster at the West Michigan Regional Undergraduate Science Research Conference. Chengbi also worked as a FYRES mentor in 2013-2014 and studied the relationship between deer activity and trail characteristics on coastal dunes. He was able to present this research at the Michigan Academy Conference in February 2014. After graduating from Calvin, Chengbi plans to study in the master’s program of geography at Ohio State University.

Jessica L. McGhee (Beaver Falls, PA) is graduating with honors in History, as well as a minor in Biochemistry. Combining her two passions for history and medicine, she has spent her time in the program evaluating the social context of disease. Over the past year, she has worked with Professor Katerberg in examining the Influenza Pandemic of 1918 and its interactions with the progressive war society as seen through the prescribed medical treatments. Following graduation from Calvin, Jessica plans to attend medical school.

Joseph Matheson (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in both Biology and Philosophy. Joseph presented on new research in behavioral epigenetics in his genetics class and is currently researching a project on the nutritional qualities of different varieties of spinach, as well as a philosophy thesis on the problem of cognitive exaptation for proper functionalism. Joseph has been accepted to Teach For America, where he plans to teach high school chemistry or biology in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Following this appointment, Joseph plans to attend graduate school.

Nicole Michmerhuizen (Holland, MI) is graduating with honors in Chemical Engineering, as well as a major in Biochemistry. Nicole completed two honors projects for her engineering courses, both of which focused on propylene oxide. Since May 2012, she worked under the mentorship of Professor Sinniah in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department. Her work in his group focused on characterizing the biomolecular interactions between insulin and G-quadruplex DNA. She is the co-first author on one publication detailing this work, the co-author of a second currently under review, and the lead author on a third manuscript in preparation. Nicole has presented this work at local and international conferences and has received the Goldwater Scholarship based on her success in the classroom and laboratory. Next year, Nicole plans to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan and pursue her doctorate degree in pharmacology.

Elizabeth Mulder (Cadillac, MI) is graduating with honors in Psychology, as well as a minor in Biotechnology. Liz’s honors research focused on the theories of personality; she wrote a thesis on the genetic influences of the big five personality traits. She also did research with Professor Helder on discovering trends and predicting factors on children adopted internationally at older ages. Following graduation from Calvin, Liz plans to work and volunteer for a year, then hopefully attending medical school.

HaEun Nam (Kuching, Malaysia and Seoul, South Korea) is graduating with honors in International Relations, as well as a minor in Business. Her honors research, which she worked closely with Professors den Dulk and Westra, is focused on religion and international trade. After graduation from Calvin, HaEun hopes to work for 1-2 years before attending law school.

Sarah J. Nikkel (Grayslake, IL) is graduating with honors in Literature, as well as a minor in Chinese Studies. For her Literature thesis, Sarah researched contemporary English translations of Shakespeare’s works, with a focus on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and some of the complexities surrounding the act of translation and its connection to the nature of language and storytelling. After graduation, Sarah plans to continue living in the Grand Rapids area while working and furthering her education in art and design.

Justin Ooms (Lansing, IL) is graduating with honors in History, as well as a major in German and a minor in Philosophy. Justin’s philosophy research focused on the implications of a Wittgensteinian pragmatist philosophy of language for biblical interpretation and doctrines of the authority of Scripture. Justin also researched post-war Austria for his History thesis, specifically looking at the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria. Following graduation from Calvin, Justin hopes to attend law school.

Kendra J. Pennings (Syracuse, NY) is graduating with honors in Nursing, as well as a minor in Psychology. Her honors thesis is entitled: “The Effects of Social Determinants of Health on Prenatal Care Adequacy in Michigan.” Her previous work centered on access to healthcare for low income women. Kendra has worked under the mentorship of Professor Ayoola since the summer of 2012 and is currently a research assistant on a women’s reproductive knowledge promotion program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Kendra is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International, a nursing honor society. She has presented at multiple venues, including the Midwest Nursing Research Society, Sigma Theta Tau Kappa-Epsilon, Michigan Academy of Arts and Sciences, and various departmental seminars. After graduation, Kendra plans to pursue a doctorate in nursing.

Riemer Praasmsma (Cadillac, MI) is graduating with honors in Biochemistry. For the past two summers, Riemer has researched Glut1, a membrane protein that transports glucose in many eukaryotic cells. With Professor Arnoys’ support, he investigated three different proposed biochemical mechanisms for activation using recombinant DNA, glucose uptake assays, and cell imaging techniques. After graduation, Riemer hopes to attend medical school.

Yunus A. Prasetya (Tangerang, Indonesia) is graduating with honors in Philosophy, as well as a major in Religion. Yunus wrote his honors thesis for philosophy on situationism and virtue ethics. He will begin a doctorate degree in philosophy at Baylor University next fall.

Ben Rietema (Boulder, CO) is graduating with honors in English, as well as minors in Philosophy and Spanish. Ben structured his honors thesis after travel writing and wrote three essays that focused on different sub-travel writing genre (journalistic, memoir, humorous). Ben has no current plans after graduation, only going where “the wind blows.”

Jacob C. Roorda (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Engineering, with an Electrical and Computer concentration, as well as a minor in Mathematics. For honors, Jake worked to implement a CAN bus controller and an arcade game on a field-programmable gate array. He has also worked with signal processing on 8-bit microcontrollers. Jake plans to work for GE Aviation Systems in Grand Rapids after graduation. As part of their Edison program, he will obtain a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan State University.

Amy M. Schepers (Byron Center, MI) is graduating with honors in Kinesiology. Her research has primarily focused on total knee replacements, including a filming project that analyzed the altered biomechanics of stair climbing. Her thesis is investigating how obesity impacts the effectiveness of a total knee replacement surgery and the subsequent physical therapy interventions. After graduation, Amy plans to attend Duke University for their Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

Tyler Slamkowski (Muskegon, MI) is graduating with honors in both Music and International Development Studies. His honors work for international development studies is on the relationship between music education and social capital in developing countries. He also served as an assistant director to the Calvin band program as his final honors work for music. Tyler will be spending the fall in Honduras and then hopes to find a position working in higher education. He is also considering seminary or graduate school in music education.

Damok Song (South Korean MK from the Philippines) is graduating with honors in Religion, as well as a major in Philosophy. From his Religion and Philosophy courses, Damok has done honors research and writing about theodicy in Ezekiel with Professor De Groot for the Prophets course, Wisdom and Logos from Jewish theology to Greek philosophy with Professor Harlow for the Johannine Literature course, masculinity in the United States and South Korea with Professor Groenhout for the Philosophy of Gender course, and South Korean Minjung theology with Professor R. Plantinga for the Theology: Theory and Method course. After graduation, Damok will be fulfilling his military duty for two years in South Korea, and will work toward his Master of Divinity in seminary in either the United States or South Korea.  

Abigail J. Streelman (Grandville, MI) is graduating with honors in Biology, as well as a minor in Scientific Computing and Modeling. Abigail has worked with Professor Wertz in the biology department and Professor Nelesen in computer science to create a computer program that uses data from a MALDI TOF (a new instrument at Calvin) to help biologists study and understand communities of bacteria. After graduation, Abigail will attend the University of Colorado-Denver to pursue a doctorate in microbiology.

Marta E. Swenson (Ann Arbor, MI) is graduating with honors in Business, with a concentration in Marketing, as well as a minor in Psychology. For her honors thesis, Marta created a business plan to open an authentic Kenyan Chai shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan. After graduation, Marta is hoping to obtain a position at the Google branch in Ann Arbor, or if her business plan for a Kenyan Chai shop proves feasible, then possibly pursue that.

Abigail Hui-Wen Teo (Singapore) is graduating with honors in Psychology. As part of her honors research, Abigail worked with Professor DeHaan in examining how non-parental mentoring may impact the religiosity and well-being in adolescents. Through interviews with non-parental mentors in community programs that have been identified as helping adolescents achieve excellence, the research also looked at pulling out the common themes and primary objects of mentorship that has helped adolescents achieve success. After graduation, Abigail plans to pursue a doctoral degree in graduate school.

Ashley Tudder (Orono, ME) is graduating with honors in Psychology. During Ashley’s senior year, she had the opportunity to work with Professor Yonker on a study evaluating the effectiveness of a humility character education program at a local Christian school. Ashley is also interning at the Pine Rest Psychological Consultation Center. After graduation, Ashley plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

Caleb Uitvlugt (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Chemistry, as well as a major in Mathematics and a minor in Spanish. Caleb has completed two summers of research in the chemistry department, primarily with Professor Tatko, but also with Professor Muyskens. He presented this research in his honors thesis entitled “Catechol Binding with Redox-active Metal Ions.” After graduating from Calvin, Caleb hopes to attend graduate school in chemistry.

Kayla M. VanderPloeg (Baroda, MI) is graduating with honors in Strategic Communication, as well as a minor in Writing. Kayla wrote her honors thesis on “The Autocomplete Truth as a Feminist Critique of Rhetoric and Language,” a thesis analyzing the ways in which the UN “The Autocomplete Truth” campaign deconstructs patriarchal representation of women. After graduation, Kayla hopes to find a job and work in the public relations field.

Kathryn Van Zanen (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Writing, as well as minors in Environmental Studies and Religion. In the summer of 2012, Kathryn served as a McGregor Research Fellow under Professors Slagter and Pyper. The project focused on the outcomes of Spanish-language study abroad experiences in the areas of language acquisition, community engagement, and spiritual development. In the fall of 2013, she wrote an honors thesis on NW, a 2012 novel by a British writer, Zadie Smith. Framed by the work of Jacques Derrida, her work explored the ways in which class, race, and gender interact with characters’ personal narratives of existential freedom. In August, Kathryn will begin a one-year appointment as a Communications Assistant for EpiscoCare in Cairo, Egypt.

Ross Venhuizen (Tinley Park, IL) is graduating with honors in Strategic Communications, as well as a major in Business, with a concentration in Marketing. Ross researched, wrote, and edited an essay casting President Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech in a new light. He collaborated with Professor Groenendyk throughout this research. After graduation, Ross plans on working in marketing or sales in a climate warm enough that he won’t have to see snow for the next few years.

Lauren Verstraete (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Biology, as well as minors in Spanish and Biochemistry. Lauren researched the effect of prairie burns on insect populations at Calvin’s Flat Iron Lake preserve last summer. She presented at Calvin’s environmental poster session and wrote a paper about her research. After graduating from Calvin, Lauren plans on attending the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Thomas G. Voss (Orland Park, IL) is graduating with honors in Engineering, with a Chemical concentration, as well as a major in Chemistry. For his honors projects, Thomas investigated the feasibility of using snow to cool a house in the summer, and he also studied and designed the separation system for an Olefin production plant. Thomas is currently looking to work as an engineer after graduating from Calvin.

Alexander Westenbroek (Grand Rapids, MI) is graduating with honors in Linguistics, as well as a major in Classical Languages. His honors thesis, supervised by Professors Vander Lei and Vanden Bosch, covered the work of Noam Chomsky in his 1957 Syntactic Structures and the claims he makes in the book about the relationship of syntax (grammar) and semantics (meaning). After graduating from Calvin, Alexander is hoping to teach English in Japan.

Amanda B. Witte (Holland, MI) is graduating with honors in Biochemistry (ACS-certified), as well as a minor in Mathematics. While at Calvin, Amanda completed over four years of biophysical research in the lab of Professor Sinniah. This research culminated in five publications in major scientific journals and presentations at four international conferences. Amanda was also a finalist of the UT Southwestern McKnight Prize for molecular biophysics in the fall of 2012. After graduation, Amanda will attend medical school at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

Thomas E. Wodarek (Ada, MI) is graduating with honors in Computer Science, as well as a minor in Information Systems. His honors work spans from Sentiment Analysis of Twitter data to Course Schedule generation using Artificial Intelligence techniques. He has also researched how High Performance Computing technologies can be incorporated into the classroom and BioInformatics research in fast community analysis of microbes. After graduation, Thomas hopes to attend graduate school for a doctorate degree in computer science with a focus on high performance computing with applications into scientific computing.