Katie Peyton, an English major and Spanish minor, is from Cullman, Alabama. At the 2019 JSU Student Symposium, she won Best Paper in the undergraduate division. She is a senior this year and plans to graduate in May. Peyton has been an officer in the Honors Program for two years and a member of the RUF Ministry Team for three years.
Do you have any hobbies?
I like to doodle and draw, and I love going on random adventures with my friends. Also, I am always up for any activity that involves playing with dogs.
What is your favorite thing to eat on/off campus?
I think the Gamecock Diner is wildly underappreciated. They have the best sweet tea on campus, and sweet tea is essential to my diet.
Why did you decide to come to JSU?
I received the Elite Honors Scholarship as an incoming freshman, so that had a big impact on my decision to attend JSU. But even before I knew that I got the scholarship, I visited JSU several times with my parents. I loved the campus because it was small, but beautiful.
Why did you choose your major?
I think I became an English major because I have always loved the power of a good story and the rhythm of literature; I am captivated by well-written words.
Who was your mentor for the Student Symposium?
Mrs. Jennifer Foster was my mentor. She taught my Bible as Literature Old Testament and New Testament classes, and she has been one of my favorite teachers that I’ve ever had.
What do you plan to do with the prize money?
I didn’t know about the prize money until after I won the award, but it is definitely exciting! I haven’t quite planned how I’ll spend the money yet. Most of it will probably go toward fun things that pop up during the rest of the semester.
How did you come up with the idea for your project/What is your project about?
In Mrs. Foster’s Bible as Literature classes, our main assignment was to write research blogs on things we read in the Bible that sparked our interest. I talked to Mrs. Foster at the beginning of last semester about taking her Old Testament class as an Honors by contract class, which just means that I would complete an extra component in the course in order to receive honors credit. My honors assignment was to present one of my blogs at the spring Student Symposium.
I got the idea for the blog that I presented when we were reading 1st Samuel. In 1st Samuel, Saul becomes the very first King of Israel, but he was not at all seeking to be king when he was anointed. It kind of came out of nowhere for him, so Samuel the prophet sends him on a journey to see lots of very specific things so that he will have reason to believe that he has actually been chosen by Yahweh. One of the things he is supposed to see on his journey is the Oak of Tabor. When I read “Oak of Tabor,” I recognized the detail as one that I had read before. My presentation focused on all the Biblical characters before Saul who also had significant spiritual moments at Oak trees, and I connected these characters back to Saul through the literary and cultural significance of Oak trees in the Bible. I also talked about how Oak trees sort of frame the rise and fall of King Saul, which was a very cool concept for me to learn.
What do you love most about this project?
I loved this project because it seems to capture what it’s like to study the Bible through a literary lens. I mentioned in my presentation that I grew up studying the Bible in a religious context, and I still study the Bible for religious regions. However, being forced to notice literary devices and recurring themes and character development and plot devices while reading really challenged me. It has allowed me to see what a complex, incredible story the Hebrew narrative is. All the little details that come together in intricate, often unnoticed ways—something as simple as Oak trees—reveal more to me about the God I already love.