Union College student Kimberly Alexander recently presented at the Appalachian College Association-University of North
Carolina, Asheville Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Alexander, a sophomore from Lebanon, Ind., presented “From the Virgin Wilderness to Scales and Tails: An Ecofeminist Approach to Margaret Atwood.” Specifically, she focused on sexism in the societies Margaret Atwood creates in her writing, which are issues Alexander believes are relevant in today’s society.
Alexander said she was selected to give the presentation based on the feminism-focused work she did in her English 102 class taught by Shayne Confer, Ph.D., who was one of her biggest supporters as she prepared the presentation.
“Dr. Confer is the professor that got me involved in this project, and he was there every step of the way,” said Alexander. “He did not control how I wrote the paper, but instead let me go the way I wanted and helped from there.” She added that her parents were also big supporters, making sure she focused and prepared.
Overall, Alexander said the experience was a “big deal” for her, and will help her later on down the road, both professionally and personally.
“This will be a great asset to my graduate applications because it shows I can handle something at this level, while also doing my studies and being involved on campus,” Alexander said. “Personally this was huge for me, because I have never been comfortable asking for help or talking on front of groups. I’ve learned to always ask for help—no matter how large or small the situation is.”
Around 20 people, including students and faculty, attended Alexander’s presentation. According to Confer, Alexander’s presentation represented Union College students very well.
“Her presentation was entertaining and informative, the audience was moved to ask probing questions, and Kim responded to them deftly and appropriately, including identifying areas for further research,” Confer said. “Her presentation sends a clear message about our college’s commitment to the growth of individual students through research, as well as reinforcing the idea that Union College is a place where intelligent and humane students share their discoveries and knowledge with the larger academic community.”
Vice President for Academic Affairs David Johns, Ph.D., said he is proud of Alexander’s accomplishments and encouraged by her scholarship. “Kim is a great example of what is possible when talented students are able to work closely with excellent faculty,” Johns said.
The ACA-UNCA Undergraduate Research Symposium was established to develop region-wide strength in undergraduate research. This year marked the third year of the symposium, which is held on the campus of the University of North Carolina, Asheville.