After the spring semester closed out in May, Kirsten Kappelmann's summer launched full-speed ahead. By June, she was a continent away attending the LOGOS Conference at Oxford University. Sponsored by the Green Scholars Initiative (GSI) and Logos Fellowship, in collaboration with SCIO (Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford), the focus for this second annual conference was "Biblical Texts, Vocation, and the Christian Mind." Lectures topics included current issues in textual studies, the influence of important Christian Oxford scholars, and vocation and Christian scholarship.
"I have participated in GSI for a year," Kappelmann says. "It's been a fantastic opportunity to gain hands-on experience in papyrology and manuscript studies."
With GSI, fragments of ancient, rare manuscripts of Greek classical poetry, Greek philosophy and Judeo-Christian Scriptures are being retrieved from papier-mâché-like mummy wrappings on loan to Baylor University - all part of an international project that is giving Honors College undergraduate humanities students the opportunity to conduct rare hands-on research. The initiative eventually will include more than 100 universities, with Baylor University as the primary academic research partner.
Research materials are provided from the massive Green Collection, one of the world's newest and largest collections of items such as Dead Sea Scrolls, a letter by Martin Luther and a fourth-century Alexandrian casket cover. The collection is named for the Green family, which owns the arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby.
Professors from Baylor's Honors College, religion and classics departments are working with students on a manuscript commentary on the Gospel of Matthew that dates to somewhere between the ninth and 11th century A.D. (C.E.) and an illuminated 14th-century manuscript of a bestselling anonymous illustrated work of popular theology.
As a University Scholar in the Honors College, Kappelmann's concentration is Classics. Two of her professors, Dr. Jeff Fish (associate professor of Classics) and Dr. David Lyle Jeffrey (Distinguished Professor of Literature and the Humanities in Baylor's Honors College), encouraged her to delve deeper into the study of the GSI texts that piqued her interest.
"If you had told me freshman year that I'd attend a conference in Oxford, I wouldn't have believed you," Kappelmann says. "My experience at the LOGOS Conference gave me a great deal of insight into what it means to pursue a vocation as a Christian scholar and helped me to think critically about my own vocation, both through excellent lectures by top scholars and through conversations with other participants in the conference."
While abroad, Kappelmann took time to visit her sister Katherine in the Netherlands, who was participating in Baylor in Maastricht. Kappelmann's next stop back home to study for the GRE and then on to Baylor University, where she served as a leader in the Honors Line Camp.
"I am so thankful for the Honors College and its amazing faculty," Kappelmann shares. "Without them, I never would have been able to participate in such wonderful opportunities."
Daniel Lin (Business Fellows, '14)
Baylor Interdisciplinary Core
Luke Smith (Business Fellows, '14)
Encouragement from the community of peers and staff in the Honors Residential College (HRC) led Luke Smith to apply for a unique internship opportunity in the South American country Suriname. The paid internship arose when Honors College alum Musheer Kamau (University Scholar, '05) eagerly proposed to Honors College Dean Thomas Hibbs the extraordinary opportunity for current Honors College students to obtain work experience in an international setting with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) - the most important regional development bank in Latin America and the Caribbean. Serving as the country economist, Kamau hoped to mentor an Honors College junior or senior who had an interest in international development and economics. The student also needed quantitative experience (i.e., coursework in statistics, economics, analysis).
Both Daniel Lin and Luke Smith were suggested by a number of faculty and staff from the Honors College, the Business Fellows Program, and the Honors Residential College.
"I was notified of the internship while studying abroad in Cologne, Germany," Lin recalls. "I was actually searching for an internship in Germany when I saw the email regarding the opportunity at IDB. As I was reading the desired qualifications and responsibilities of the internship, I thought to myself, 'Hmm, that sounds like everything I am doing right now....Economics? Check. Statistics? Check. Quantitative analysis? Check. Dutch? Well, it's close enough to German, so I should be fine. Check.' I am also interested in going to graduate school for economics, so this internship, with the research and analysis, was right up my alley."
Smith also sensed he'd been academically groomed for this international challenge. "I felt as though the Honors College had prepared me well for this opportunity," Smith acknowledges. "I had taken multiple economics courses through the business school, including an honors economics course."
An additional perk for Smith was the internship's timeframe fit perfectly into his academic and leadership schedule. "My Community Leader position in the HRC required a year-long commitment, which made it difficult to study abroad during the semester," Smith explains. "The Suriname internship provided the unique opportunity to go abroad during the summer while also being able to have an income to help pay for school."
Tasks of the internship included analyzing the development challenges of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, estimating the size of the informal economy in selected Caribbean countries, and documenting trends in technology, technical change, and productivity.
Reflecting on his Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC) and Business Fellows experiences, Lin notes, "Having taken BIC courses early in my college career helped to open up my worldview toward different cultures and perspectives and, as a Business Fellow, I have much more freedom in designing my own curriculum due to the flexible nature of the program. The Business Fellows Program also has introduced me to various opportunities, such as this one. With the exposure to unique opportunities that I would not have otherwise known, the Honors College and Business Fellows have taught me to take the initiative for what I want. These two programs also have provided an environment to develop closer relationships with faculty who have aided me tremendously."
About the Country Economist Musheer Kamau
Musheer O. Kamau graduated from the Honors College in 2005 as a University Scholar (Economics, Political Science, Music). He completed graduate studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, between 2005 and 2007, after which he joined the IDB as country economist. The country economist functions as a strategic and knowledge advisor in the management team of the country office. Kamau manages a large research program that covers more than 10 countries. Musheer specializes in fiscal and structural policies for low-income, especially commodity-dependent, countries. His main work explores commodity price volatility, competitiveness, technology and development, and policies for debt sustainability. Musheer is married to Sarah Jane Petersen (Baylor, '05). They live in Paramaribo, Suriname, with their three children.