Two Baylor Graduates Awarded F. Ray Wilson II Award for Best Thesis

April 19, 2016

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WACO, Texas (April 26, 2016) – Two Baylor University graduates, Jacob Blythe and Nicky Arellano, were recently named the 2015 recipients of the F. Ray Wilson II Award for Best Thesis, a recognition to reward excellence in scholarship honoring undergraduate thesis writers in Baylor’s Honors Program.
Blythe graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in the University Scholars program in 2015, concentrating in the biomedical sciences, great texts and ethics. He is completing a Master of Arts in Christian Studies at Duke Divinity School. His thesis, “Physician Compensation: The American Struggle,” focused on the origin of the compensation of United States healthcare workers.
Arellano graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Geology in 2015. She is completing her Master of Science in water resources science at Oregon State University. Her thesis, “Using Paleosols to Reconstruct the Paleoenvironment and Paleoclimate of a Late Pleistocene Archaeological Site in the Lake Victoria Basin, Kenya,” presented her study of Lake Victoria and its shifts through time in response to climate change.
Blythe and Arellano returned to Baylor to be honored at the Honors Program banquet on Wednesday, April 13, where the two spoke to graduating seniors.
“The Honors Thesis is the one protected space in the Baylor Honors Program where it is possible to truly cultivate sustained practices of attention directed at a single project,” Blythe said. “These are foreign practices to those of us that can scarcely remember life without an iPhone and the infinite array of distractions that one provides, but it seems to me that practices of attention, habits that make possible concentration, are practices that we give up at our own peril.”
Blythe told attendees the important role of daily practices in shaping who people become.
“With this in mind, the Honors Thesis can be viewed as an opportunity to cultivate a particular type of daily practice, which then becomes a particular type of habit, which then, in turn, makes you into a particular type of person,” he said.
Arellano told attendees about her time in Kenya working on her thesis with the Lake Victoria research team.
“I learned a lot about myself throughout my thesis journey. It solidified my passion for geology, for research and for learning, which led me to continue my education on to graduate school,” Arellano said. “It also developed a deeper appreciation in me for other disciplines and motivated me to continue interdisciplinary work as a graduate student. I think one of the best parts of producing a thesis is getting to learn from others throughout the process. It made me realize how important it is for scientists and other researchers to have not just technical knowledge and skills, but also the ability to connect with people.”
The Wilson Award honors the life of F. Ray Wilson II for his outstanding service to Baylor University and the Baylor Honors Program. Wilson was a professor of biology and Master Teacher, directing 27 honors theses during his more than 30 years of teaching at Baylor. The award recognizes outstanding theses in the physical sciences, social sciences and humanities.
To be considered a finalist for best thesis, a graduate must receive an “Outstanding” designation following his or her thesis defense. A panel then reviews the nominated theses and makes recommendations to the Wilson Thesis Award Committee to name prize winners, inviting winners to return to Baylor for the annual Honors Week banquet every April.
For more information, contact Wesley Null, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Null serves as chair of the F. Ray Wilson II Award for Best Thesis Committee.
by Bethany Harper, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.