In March, I was lucky enough to be selected to attend the Undergraduate Research at the Capitol event, which highlights undergraduates who have completed various kinds of research at universities around the commonwealth. Each student or group of students conduct a poster presentation and are given the opportunity to interact with legislators and staffers. I presented on my honors thesis, entitled “The Relationship between Government Revenue and the Income Tax Rate”. I would encourage future thesis writers to pursue this presentation opportunity. It is an annual event in March.
You have three minutes to develop a character, a conflict, and a resolution – basically the rules for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship Competition. Being nominated is a wonderful honor – being nominated once again after participating in the competition previously is an opportune second chance. KCACTF respondents frequently attend Colonial Theatre productions: I was nominated first for my performance as the smart-aleck Al Joad in The Grapes of Wrath. I attended the region festival with my partner, Braelin Stuver, and performed a short scene from Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. We did fairly well and received great feedback, but did not advance.
The competition relies solely on three things: partner chemistry, practice, and (most importantly) selected material. Learning from my mistakes from last year, I plan to being my search soon for the most appropriate and impactful scenes that I can use to showcase my development as an actor. The role that allowed me a second respondent nomination was that of Antonio Salieri in Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre’s production of Amadeus; it remains to be the most taxing role I’ve encountered. Surviving the show’s run after nearly ninety minutes of personal monologues and conversations – many of which were melodramatic – was enough reward for me. Receiving the Irene Ryan Nomination is an additional honor that I will gladly tackle again next January. Furthermore, the KCACTF respondent put myself and Rachel Stetz in a pool of potential scenes from numerous regional shows to be performed at the next festival. If selected, we will be reprising our roles of Antonio Salieri and Constanze Mozart for all KCACTF Region II participants to see.
On February 26th a group of honors students joined Professor John Locke as part of the lunch with a professor series. In addition to teaching classes on campus, John Locke serves as Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development through Student Life, and thus is a familiar face to students around campus. The discussion held throughout the afternoon consisted of topics such as RMU history and fun facts, the direction RMU is heading in the future, and Disney, a personal favorite of John Locke. All in all, the event made for an enjoyable afternoon for those involved. We would like to thank John Locke for taking time out of his day to spend with us, and would love to have him join us again in the future!
Iryna Fedets, Senior Policy Analyst for Economic Freedom in Europe and Central Asia at the Heritage Foundation, and Ukraine native, recently spoke at a roundtable presentation in the Business Building. Iryna gave a brief overview of the protests occurring throughout Ukraine and summarized Russia’s role in the turmoil that is still taking place. She discussed her country’s corruption and even included a story about her sister’s university giving out A’s in return for bribes, which both intrigued and baffled the audience. Iryna said she will continue to remain hopeful towards Ukraine’s future. Recently, President Obama promised to impose harsh sanctions on Russia if they continue to ignore Ukraine’s sovereignty. With any luck, this will allow the situation in Ukraine to improve.
On April 3, the Honors Program hosted April’s First Thursday Global Get Together. All members of the RMU Community were invited to socialize and taste international dishes, such as dishes from the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Germany, France, and Italy. Global Get Togethers are held the first Thursday of each month of the school year.
Two Honors students, accompanied by Honors assistant Lindsey Sobolosky, attended the NRHC Conference hosted in Niagara Falls, New York. Hannah Arnold and Tanner Sebastian explored both the New York and Canadian side of the Falls, encouraged to compare the two cities. While there, Tanner presented a paper he wrote in the Honors World Literature course. It was an educational experience for all.
In the Spring 2014 semester, the Robert Morris University Colonial Theatre presented Amadeus. I started work on it as the stage manager and then took on the role of set designer also. It was a long, difficult process, even though the set looked simple enough. Every show we put up, we have a professor from another college come representing the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. When here, they speak to what they liked, didn’t like, thought was well executed, things like that. One of their jobs is to nominate two actors to participate in the Irene Ryan Scholarship Acting Competition at the festival each year. Another thing they’re allowed to do is give Certificates of Merit for whatever they feel was exceptional and needed to be recognized. It’s usually given for extraordinary achievement in whatever area of the play the respondent feels deserved it. I was lucky enough to be awarded this certificate for my set design. When I found out, I was flabbergasted. I was not expecting it at all. I had heard from many people that the set was beautiful and even the respondent had praised it. But to be awarded this certificate of merit meant the world to me. It meant to me that my hard work and creative thinking, two things that I pride myself on, had really paid off and gave me the confidence to know that I had created a set that was really something.