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Students capture academic glory in Alpha Chi National Convention competition

Members of Carson-Newman's Alpha Chi chapter at this year’s national convention. Pictured left to right: Dr. Amanda Ford, faculty sponsor; Kelli Williams, faculty sponsor; Dr. Kip Wheeler, faculty sponsor; Derek Driskill, Newport; Briana Lay, Sevierville; Sara Humphrey, Jefferson City; Meredith Wormsley, Knoxville; Lily Deal, Knoxville; Ansley Parker, Strawberry Plains.

Carson-Newman undergrads are celebrating academic achievement after returning to campus with a host of accolades following the annual convention of Alpha Chi, the national college honor society in Austin, Texas.

“Carson-Newman’s chapter has had a long tradition of competing successfully at the national conventions,” said Dr. Kip Wheeler, C-N associate professor of English and Alpha Chi sponsor. “In the last half-century, there have only been two years in which our students did not win some scholarship or some accolade.” 

C-N’s chapter, first chartered in 1972, received the President’s Cup Award for the second time in school history. The President’s Cup is given to the chapter judged “most outstanding.” Carson-Newman becomes only the second institution in Alpha Chi history to receive this award multiple times.

“It’s always a great pleasure to take these students to compete each year,” Wheeler said. “In general, the Carson-Newman student body is already top-notch, but Alpha Chi students are the best of our best. They really showcase the capabilities of our students and instructors.”

The Alpha Chi National Convention also gives students the opportunity to present scholarly works in a variety of academic areas. Three C-N students received recognition for their efforts.

Senior Sarah Humphrey, of Jefferson City, won top honors in the Sledge-Benedict category with her honors project, “The Effectiveness of Sensory Integration Therapy on Maladaptive Behaviors in Children with ASD Ages Three to Twelve: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”  Humphrey receives the prestigious Benedict Fellowship, a $4,000 grant towards graduate studies. Matt Wilkerson, chair of C-N’s Biology Department, oversaw Humphrey’s work, the capstone project of her work in C-N’s Honors Program.

“Presenting at the Alpha Chi convention was such a fun experience,” said Humphrey. “It was a great opportunity to see a new city and present my project to people from across the nation.” Humphrey will graduate with honors in May of 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in biology. She starts her Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree at the Medical University of South Carolina later this spring.

Derek Driskill, a junior from Newport, won a $500 prize. His paper: “The Influence of Hebrew Patriarchy on Samson Agonistes: Interviews with Old Testament Scholars,” was judged best research paper by an undergraduate junior in Region III, which covers the Southeast U.S.

Judges also recognized the work of junior Lilian Deal of Knoxville. The awards committee designated Deal first alternate for the $2,000 Nolle prize for her paper “’Til Death Do Us Part: Criminal Forensics and the Partnership of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.”

Carson-Newman’s chapter of Alpha Chi also picked up a $220 cash prize for an interview with Dr. Sheridan Barker, 1972 alumnus and professor emeritus. Barker’s interview appears in “The Voices of Alpha Chi,” a digital archive of interviews with people important to Alpha Chi’s history. In 1972, Barker became the first inductee into Alpha Chi’s chapter at Carson-Newman. C-N’s Office of Marketing and Communications produced the interview which was conducted by current Alpha Chi student members.

Also at the conference, colleagues voted Wheeler Alpha Chi president for Region III.

Founded in 1851, Carson-Newman is a Christian liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention. The University is located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, among the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Carson-Newman offers 50 undergraduate majors, as well as associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

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