Caroline Suggs
Lauren Benedick
Jeremiah Sammons
Derrick Behm
Alyssa Romano
Aileen Aldalur


Kelsey Young
Griffin O'Hara
Brittany Turner
Trevor DeRosch
Te'aira Tucker
Natalie Delgado

The Honors Capstone is the pinnacle of an undergraduate experience. Motivated and capable students from all disciplines are invited to embark on this year-and-a half journey. During this process, Honors students select their faculty committee, find a topic, propose their original work, and then create their Capstone. Below are the 12 Honors graduates who completed their Capstone this year.




Aileen Aldalur
Psychology, B.A.
Hometown: Lakewood, Calif.

Hearing the Media: An Investigation of the Influences of Mainstream Media on Deaf/deaf Women’s Body Image Development
This study investigates deaf acculturation as a potential buffer against internalization of mainstream beauty standards and, by extension, body image disturbances. Results indicate that culturally deaf women still internalize media messages; however, deaf acculturation is associated with a healthier body image among deaf women.

Director: Dr. Deborah Schooler, Dept. of Psychology
Second Reader: Dr. Deborah Maxwell-McCaw, Dept. of Psychology


Alyssa Romano
English, B.A.
Hometown: Modesto, Calif.

Observing a Residential School for the Deaf: Identifying Successful Factors in Creating Deafcentric Environment
This study identifies four linguistic and socialization factors of one known Deafcentric school in providing quality education that promotes self-advocacy and leadership skills for Deaf students. They are (1) visual instructional techniques; (2) a visual learning environment; (3) respect for and consistent use of American Sign Language (ASL) everywhere; and (4) the positive attitude of staff towards a bilingual environment.

Director: Dr. Maribel Gárate, Dept. of Education
Second Reader: Dr. Beth Benedict, Communication Studies Program, Dept. of Art, Communication Studies, and Theatre


Derrick Behm
English, B.A.
Hometown: W.Henrtetta, N.Y.

Work In Progress: My life at twenty-one
A memoir with creative twists: A twenty-one year-old man uses memories and experiences to weave together his life and discover his unfolding identity. This coming of age memoir revolves around the theme of acceptance of self. Using the second person point of view, the memoir entices readers to make the story theirs as well.

Director: Ms. Allison Polk, Development Specialist
Second Reader: Dr. Pia Borsheim, Dept. of English


Jeremiah Sammons
Elementary Education, B.A.
Hometown: Houston, Texas

She Stands For Freedom: A Thematic Unit for 4th- 5th Graders
This thematic unit plan for 4th and 5th grade children focuses on famous women in American history with a special emphasis on the Statue of Liberty and immigration. It consists of a two-act play, The Golden Door, and sample lesson plans (with assessments) that integrate the learning objectives and skills required by Common Core State Standards and allow interconnections among various subjects.

Director: Dr. Thangi Appanah, Dept. of Education
Second Reader: Dr. Shirley Shultz Myers, Dept. of English



Lauren Benedict
Digital Media, B.A.
Hometown: Germantown, Md.

Sensual Cultures: Exploring Sensory Orientation (App)
This iPad app displays how cultures use our five senses with a focus on Deaf and general hearing cultural practices. Featuring videos of real-life situations on H Street, NE, near Gallaudet, where cross-cultural misunderstandings arise, the hip format helps educate in order to reduce misunderstandings and also to increase enjoyment of our diverse public life.

Director: Dr. Benjamin Bahan, Dept. of ASL/Deaf Studies
Second Reader: Ms. Melissa Malzkuhn, Digital Innovation & Media Strategies Manager, VL2


Caroline Suggs
Theatre Art, B.A.
Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Reader's Theater for Deaf Students: A Tool for Developing Literacy Skills
An effective approach to literacy, reader’s theater utilizing ASL and English holds potential as an effective bilingual method of enhancing literacy skills in deaf 7th graders. The unit contains scripts of four scenes for each of three dystopian novels united by themes of autonomy, medical ethics, and conformity; discussion questions; classroom activities; and assessments that measure literacy skills and attitudes toward reading.

Director: Dr. Sharon Pajka, Dept. of English
Second Reader: Dr. Laurene E. Simms, Dept. of Education


Natalie Delgado
Psychology, B.A.
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.

The Unheard Needs of the Deaf in Ecuador
The education of deaf children in Ecuador is impeded by insufficient communication access, lack of government awareness about best practices, and a shortage of teachers with deaf-specific work experience and training. This project provides tools to conduct an educational needs assessment at the National Institute for Hearing and Language located in Quito, Ecuador.

Director: Ms. Paula Rodriguez, Director and Founder of Deaf Focus, LLC, Louisiana
Second Reader: Dr. Roberto Sanchez, History Program, Dept.of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology
Additional Reader: Ms. Christi Batamula, Dept. of Education


Te'aira Tucker
Social Work, B.A.
Hometown: Alabaster, Ala

Service Learning Project: Setting up a Poultry Farm in Kumba, Cameroon
This service learning project involved fundraising and education, partly through the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), for a poultry farm at the Ephphatha Institute for the Deaf, sponsored by Cameroon Deaf Empowerment Organization (CDEO). The chickens will serve as a source of food and income to the school while raising them serves as a means of effective vocational training for students.

Director: Dr. Cristi Berdichevsky, Dept. of World Languages and Cultures
Second Reader: Dr. Emilia Chukwuma, Dept. of Business



Trevor De Rosch
History, B.A.
Hometown: Bedford, N.H.

The Possibility of Ecumenism between the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
This study seeks to understand what issues stand in the way of full ecumenism or unity between the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America at institutional, clergy, and laity (congregant) levels within each organization. While the institutions have major differences, these differences aren’t as apparent among the laity.

Director: Dr. Kirk Van Gilder, Philosophy and Religion Program, Dept. of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology
Second Reader: Dr. Jeffrey Brune, History Program, Dept. of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology
Additional Reader: Dr. Robert Sanchez, History Program, Dept. of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology


Brittany Turner
History, B.A.
Hometown: Woodland, Calif.

Salary Differentials Based on Gender and Deafness at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf 1840-1900
This study analyzes historical evidence from 1840-1900 of salary discrimination on the basis of gender and deafness in a residential school for the deaf. The surprising result is that gender had a greater impact on salary than deafness throughout this period, both before and after the Milan Congress.

Director: Dr. Brian Greenwald, History Program, Dept. of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology
Second Reader: Mr. William Ennis, III, History Program, Dept. of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology


Griffin O'Hara
Creative Writing, B.A.
(self-directed major)
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.

“Caffeination” and “Loop”: Approaches to Literary and Science Fiction
Previous genre combining experiments resulting in expanded communication between author and reader appear in the novels of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren. The author’s two original stories that try new experiments combining the same two genres of popular science fiction and literary fiction are “Caffeination” and “Loop.”

Director: Dr. Shirley Shultz Myers, Dept. of English
Second Reader: Dr. Pia Borsheim, Dept. of English
Additional Reader: Dr. Christopher Heuer, Dept. of English


Kelsey Young
English, B.A.
Hometown: Castle Rock, Colo.

Eyeth: A Novel in a Deaf World
Featuring a young man and an old man telling each other stories, Eyeth is a science fiction novel unique in deaf literature because it creates a world of deaf people involved in intradeafcentric conflicts. The critical introduction touches on the novel’s major theme of colonialism.

Director: Dr. Christopher Heuer, Dept. of English
Second Reader: Dr. Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, Philosophy and Religion Program, Dept. of History, Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology


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