First-Year Student takes SPARC Award in Lightening Talk Discussion

SPARC Week at the Mount is one of the best weeks of the academic year. While any student can submit an abstract, it is a time when many of the upperclassmen present their capstone research, senior recitals and performances are held, and there is always promise of great snacks and scholarly discussion. This year’s presentations, however, brought forward research from not only the Mount’s Juniors and Seniors, but one first-year student in particular who took home the recipient of the Outstanding Lightning Talk Award for the College of Liberal Arts.

Kelley Northam, C’20, is a Communications Major from Dover Delaware. Her project titled “Feminism in Communication with Catholicism: An Exploration Through Walter Ong’s Media Theories,” explored the thesis that practicing Catholics are, by definition, feminists, despite the theories that the two are contrasting identities.

Northam claims there are two areas that “sparked” her interest in this area of study. The first stems from her role in the Mainstage Production of Iphigenia and Other Daughters. She played the role of Clytemnestra, a woman who was dependent on a strong feminine identity, as well as both a mother and a woman scorned by a patriarchal society.

Her second form of inspiration arose from her own personal reflection of the average Mount student’s inability to move beyond the stereotyped “schism” of feminism and Catholicism. Northam, who identifies as both a Catholic and a feminist, wanted to discuss these misconceptions in a positive academic setting.

Northam was incredibly humbled to win the award for Outstanding Lightening Talk. She claims at first she did not believe that she won. She claims to that she is incredibly self-critical, so she was just in shock for a few minutes. She is glad her thesis was well received. She had joked about being burned at the stake for insinuating a majority of people who bash the idea of feminism are probably feminists without even realizing. It is clear that she has learned a lot from this project, not only about herself, but about the more important parts of community:

“Honestly I think what I took away from my research was that loving your fellow human and trying to see God in them trumps everything else”, Northam says, “it doesn’t matter what your gender is or your political party or anything else; everyone is a child of God and is entitled to equal human dignity.

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