Finding One's Passion

The Berry Summer Thesis Institute offers the opportunity for second-year students to get a head start on their theses over the summer. Lauren Hoody, Stephanie Loney, Lisa Stone and Vinny Spahr could not wait to do so.

Through the self-led nature of the program, these students found themselves growing academically. “It takes an immense amount of self-motivation and determination to work on a thesis project,” said Hoody, ’18, premedicine major. However, she feels that the effort paid off in the end. “By working hard and gaining experience, I learned more and became more confident in my lab work than I ever expected,” she said. Civil engineering major, Vinny Spahr, ’15, agreed. “I was intrigued by the opportunity to conduct research under one of the distinguished faculty in the civil engineering department,” he said. “Engaging in this program allowed me to use the summer months to more efficiently hone my skills and learn alongside other Honors students.”

The students also found that working in the program helped them uncover their academic interests. Through her research, Loney, ’16, English major, found her passion in unexpected ways. “My research project helped me to accept that, although I had always wanted to be an author, it was not what I was truly passionate about,” she said. “I am very grateful that I could discover this before my junior year so that I could let myself find which area I really wanted to continue my education in.” Now Loney has decided to pursue a Master of English and to focus on academic writing. On the other hand, Lisa Stone, ’18, psychology major, had an experience which confirmed she was heading in the right direction. “BSTI helped me solidify what my research interests are for graduate school, something that was immensely helpful for me,” she said.

In addition to helping students find their passion, the program also assists in expanding the students’ appreciation for other disciplines. For example, Spahr said his experience in the program led him to discover that “I have a wide array of academic interests outside of my field, which, while not directly impactful on civil engineering, can provide perspective that might be otherwise overlooked.” By interacting with students with different majors and passions, Hoody also gained a greater appreciation for different fields of research. “This program got me more interested and intrigued by research of all disciplines,” she said. “Learning from other thesis writers was an amazing experience and made me realize all the types of different research going on.”
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