Linfield students win top paper awards

Two Linfield College seniors earned top paper awards at recent regional conferences. Samantha Mack, communication arts major, and Grace Beckett, psychology major and theatre minor, both received certificates and monetary awards.

Mack presented her competitively selected essay “Homeless Households: A Non-Profit Organization’s Visions of Homelessness” at the Northwest Communication Association’s conference in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in April. She won the organization’s top undergraduate paper award. Her study employed Kenneth Burke’s cluster criticism to examine internal and external documents created by a non-profit outreach organization, Yamhill Community Action Partnership (YCAP), in order to understand its perceptions of homelessness and its approach to helping homeless individuals.

“YCAP perceives homelessness as a temporary situation beyond an individual’s control,” said Mack. “The organization is realistic, inclusive and sensitive toward individuals affected by homelessness, while valuing precision, accuracy and supportiveness in their efforts to help homeless individuals.”

Mack also authored two other papers accepted for presentation at the conference, “Hate Something, Change Something: Analyzing Honda’s Clean Diesel Engine Campaign Using Cognitive Dissonance” and “The Man Behind the Smokescreen: Constructing a Rhetorical Vision of ‘Mad Men.’”

“Samantha has been doing fantastic research and writing in her communication arts courses for the past several years,” says Jackson Miller, associate professor of communication arts. “I am delighted that our colleagues at other Northwest colleges and universities have formally recognized the quality of her scholarly work.”

Beckett received the top undergraduate paper award at the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and Northwest Drama Conference annual meeting held at Humboldt State University in February. Titled “Medea and Lady Macbeth: Control in Madness and Strength,” the essay explores the ways in which these two memorable stage characters define themselves through their relationships with men. Beckett argues that Medea and Lady Macbeth provide a commentary on what it means to be a powerful woman in a society that otherwise undervalues feminine power.

“Grace’s paper is a wonderful example of the liberal arts education at work,” says Janet Gupton, associate professor who teaches theatre. “She was able to combine her interest and research skills in psychology with her experience in theatre to create a compelling re-visioning of two classic dramatic women’s roles.