O’Neal Hosts Symposium Featuring Its First Signature Research Scholars

The O’Neal School is excited to showcase the research of three seniors who are the first graduates of the Signature Scholars Research Program (SSRP). The 20-minute presentations will be held at O’Neal on Thursday, May 19th at 5pm.
Senior scholars will be presenting the following titles:
The Hearts and Stomachs of Kings: 
How Five Women Gave Power to the Tudors in a Period of Agnatic Primogeniture
by Stephanie Dücker
Adaptations for the United States Agronomy: Applications of Traditional Agricultural Methods in the Face of a Changing Climate 
by Victoria Mills
Healthcare Regulation and Access for American Adults with Physical Disabilities 
by Emily Wacker-Puleo
O’Neal launched the inaugural cohort of the Signature Scholars Research Program (SSRP) in the fall of 2022. It is a highly selective program for upperclassmen who are not only academically strong but also passionate about a specific subject area. Applications for the program are submitted during students’ sophomore year. The tw0-year intensive study is directed by English Department Chair, Dr. Nicole Camastra. The first year as juniors, students take the Research Methodology and Philosophy course taught by Dr. Camastra, who guides their exploratory research. That same year, the scholars write an annotated bibliography and research proposal; they also identify experts on their research topic as credible sources and plan the schedule and phases of the project from beginning to end. While working with a faculty mentor their senior year, the scholars produce a 10,000-word research paper or portfolio/product of relative weight and value. They present and discuss their research before the school community and the public. Students who complete the program will earn a diploma with distinction from O’Neal.
O’Neal’s SSRP is intended to allow these exceptional students to engage in an intensive student-centered and inquiry-based study that will challenge them well beyond a normal college preparatory or Advanced Placement program. 
Dr. Camastra writes of this year’s graduating scholars, “The inaugural cohort of SSRP seniors have indeed established a very high bar. From their sentence-level writing to the abstract questions that propelled their research trajectories, they demonstrated grit and resolve to produce what is, arguably, graduate-level work. Two of the three students, Stephanie Dücker and Emily Wacker-Puleo, have submitted 6000-word excerpts of their final papers for consideration at scholarly journals. Moreover, watching their ethos evolve over the course of the year after each mini-presentation and iteration of their topic has proved immensely satisfying. They now possess a hard-earned perspective on their subject and demonstrate graceful poise when they discuss it. I am humbled by their tenacity and perspicacity; they are truly unique students whose research skills will continue to serve them in college and beyond.”  
Students emerge from the SSRP with a well-wrought and well-earned point of view on their given topic. They have become well-acquainted with the requisite elements of research, placing them at a great advantage among their peers at the college level. Moreover, they have identified and established a network of contacts in the student’s primary discipline, contacts that have the potential to grow and nurture the student’s personal investment in the research area. In this sense, the project has the potential to continue growing and adding value to the student’s life well beyond its two-year requirement at the Upper School level.
The symposium will be filmed and posted on the School’s YouTube channel. Those interested in attending in person may call (910) 692-6920 for more information.
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