How do novels participate in community and cultural leadership? Just ask Rachel Ehret, ’12, who has spent the past year formulating an answer.

She was inspired to pursue independent research during her senior year to connect her cross-cultural and multidisciplinary experiences.

“I've been inspired by my professors in the Jepson School and in the English department to think broadly about questions of identity and community, and I think that there is a place for these ideas in leadership discussions about what it means to live in America,” says Ehret.  

Ehret and other leadership studies majors pursuing honors were able to showcase their work at the first annual Jepson School Honors Symposium in April. Students prepared posters or exhibits and answered questions about their thesis work.

Topics included international leadership and equality, collaborative leadership in the development of performing arts facilities, effective innovation management and interracial interactions.  

Faculty advisers also offered remarks about the students and praised their research.

“She has done with her research what few graduate students do, let alone undergraduates,” leadership studies professor Tom Wren said of his advisee, Bridget Wiede, ’12, who conducted research on the social activist and leader Marcus Garvey. “It’s a terrific thesis, one of the best I have seen in 20 years at the University.”

Wiede became interested in Garvey while studying abroad at Oxford University. She is headed back to Oxford next year to pursue a master’s degree in U.S. history.

Showcasing their research “shows our students and faculty at their very best,” says Dr. Terry L. Price, associate dean for academic affairs. “It also reminds those of us who are faculty members why we got in the business of teaching in the first place: to work closely with curious and talented students on fascinating and challenging research.”

Dr. Kristin Bezio, new to the Jepson School this year, was delighted to work with Ehret, whose research looked at the narratives of Julia Alvarez and Junot Díaz. “Most interestingly, Rachel wanted to redefine the way in which the novels themselves were functioning as leadership,” says Bezio.

“It was important to her to recognize that while the authors and their intentions are important, it is ultimately the novels themselves that do the work of leadership.”

2012 Honors Research

“Framing the College Debate: Insights on Obama's Rhetoric through the Capabilities Approach”
Caitlin Manak
Adviser: Dr. Douglas Hicks

“Garvey Revisited: The Legitimacy and Consistency of Marcus Garvey as Demonstrated by his Latter Movement”
Bridget Wiede
Adviser: Dr. Tom Wren

"'Why Can't We Be Friends?'" Understanding Positive Interracial Interactions"
Heather Schmitz
Adviser: Dr. Crystal Hoyt

“Rødgrød Med Fløde -The Relationship between Danish Parliamentarians and Danish Citizens Concerning Equality; From a Danish Leadership Perspective”
Natasha Levanti
Adviser: Dr. Joanne Ciulla

“Translating the Dominican Experience: Authorial Leadership and How the Narratives of Julia Alvarez and Junot Díaz Imagine Community”
Rachel Ehret
Adviser: Dr. Kristin Bezio

“Think, like a Chameleon, and Embrace Change: Effective Innovation Management"
Kate Heyer
Adviser: Dr. Crystal Hoyt

“The Role of Collaborative Leadership in the Development of Performing Arts Facilities”
Alex Wiles
Adviser: Dr. Gill Hickman

“Expert Legal Testimony: Sex, Power, and Complexity”
Colleen Schulz
Adviser: Dr. Al Goethals