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Student Spotlight: Student Symposium Award Winners

The College of Arts and Humanities congratulates Alexzandria Quintero, Ashley Himmler, and Conner Gayda for receiving the undergraduate and graduate Best of College of Arts and Humanities awards for their presentations at the Spring 2023 Student Research Symposium. 

Alexzandria Quintero, a senior double majoring in Spanish and English, won the Best in College Undergraduate Award for Arts and Humanities for her Asian American History class paper entitled “Pushing Perfection and Pain: How the ‘Model Minority’ Myth Harms Asian Americans.” In her paper, Quintero first examined the origin of the “model minority” myth in the U.S. and then discussed how this idea impacts Asian Americans today (i.e., self-perception, societal standing, workplace opportunity) as well as how it is one of the elements that frequently prevent the Asian American community from receiving assistance and subsequent relief from discrimination. 

This was her second year participating in the symposium, and Quintero found the experience invaluable, as it offers a professional experience that can be applied to other areas. “It’s not that common for undergraduate students to have an academic experience like this,” she said. “I am grateful that JSU organizes an event like the Student Symposium, which has led me to further present at conferences where I can discuss my studies and work with others in my discipline.”

Ashley Himmler, a graduate student in her second year in the MA English program, was awarded the Best of College Graduate Award for Arts and Humanities with her work entitled “Krishna, Christ, and the Fullness of Human Life,” which originated in a term paper she wrote in a course on non-western literature last fall. Himmler’s work fits the field of comparative literature and religion, full of intellectual rigor and insight. Through her research, Himmler concludes that these texts depict friendship between God and humanity and that human beings are called into a different way of living- a way of detachment from selfish pursuits to fully participate in the divine life. 

Conner Gayda, an MFA student in his second year of the three-year program, won the Best Graduate Demonstration Award with his demonstration titled “Typography, Baseball, and the Fight for Civil Rights.” Gayda has spent much of his time as a graduate student studying typography – specifically, designing fonts and exploring the power of storytelling. During the fall semester, he designed a font named “Satchel,” finding inspiration from the 1948 uniforms and logotype of the Birmingham Black Barons, which was the best African American League baseball team and has become an important part of Alabama’s history. With his font design, Gayda hoped to offer a tribute to the Black Baron’s profound legacy and an outlet to discuss justice issues while sharing his love of baseball. 

Gayda encourages students considering participating in the symposium to go for it, saying, “It never hurts to put your name out there – especially if you are passionate about your research or work. You may even be surprised by how well your research is received. I certainly was!”

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