Greek mythology leads Shakopee college student on trip to remember

Friday, March 1, 2019 - 14:09

As a business administration major at University of Wisconsin-Stout, Dylan Pass is looking forward to a career either in sales or management.

The junior from Shakopee has more confidence about what lies ahead in part because of an empowering experience he had recently in one of his classes — a class that had nothing to do with business.

In fact, it was an English class in which he studied Greek mythology, specifically Cyclops, the one-eyed giant.

“I learned a lot of life lessons,” Pass said.

The experience included working on a team of five students, doing research, creating a film, collaborating with students in Indiana and doing a presentation at a conference in Boston.

The class, taught by Associate Professor Joan Navarre, is part of the Honors College curriculum at UW-Stout. More than 550 students are in the Honors College, one of only two in the UW System.

As part of the class, Navarre assigned teams of students to research figures in Greek mythology and create short films. The films, modern adaptations of classic Greek plays, were presented last spring during Family Weekend.

In the process, the teams had their scripts critiqued by an Honors College English class at Indiana State University studying Greek mythology.

The project went to another level in November. Navarre, Pass and another class member, Maddie Kayser, presented their Cyclops project with ISU at the National College Honors Council annual conference in Boston.

Navarre and her faculty counterpart at ISU explained their collaboration. Pass and Kayser, along with students from the ISU class, then presented on the student involvement. The presentations took about an hour and 15 minutes, followed by a Q&A session, Pass said.

“I learned how to present in a professional manner and work with new people,” Pass said in a press release, including working with students from other majors and working on his public speaking.

Because the UW-Stout and ISU students hadn’t met previously, they prepared their presentation in Boston.

“We couldn’t do it over the phone. We had an outline but had to work out the kinks in Boston,” Pass said.

The presentation was titled “Crossing Campus Boundaries: Using Classical Mythology and Digital Storytelling to Connect Honors Colleges.”

“It’s an honor and a privilege to see students like Dylan and Maddie showcasing their academic skills at the national level,” Navarre said in the release. “They brought enthusiasm to our cross-institutional partnership with Indiana State University and served as excellent ambassadors for UW-Stout.

“Dylan and Maddie worked hard on this collaboration, and their hard work paid dividends at the conference,” she said.

Only about 50 percent of research presentations submitted for the national honors conference are accepted, Navarre added.

Kayser, of Cloquet, Minn., is a sophomore majoring in art education.

“It was super cool to talk with many different students from across the nation and about their research and college experiences. I loved the whole experience. It will forever impact me,” said Pass. “It was an honor and a privilege to represent UW-Stout, to collaborate with top students all across the nation and to explore a city rich in culture, history and opportunities.”

Pass is glad that he applied for the Honors College and was accepted. When he finished high school, he had 20 college credits through classes he’d taken at the University of Minnesota. He expects to graduate in three years.

“The Honors College classes are a lot more hands-on, case studies, with a lot more discussion and real-based topics you can connect to. They leave a lot of opportunities open. There’s a lot of neat things I’ve experienced that I wouldn’t have without the honors program,” he said.

To attend the conference, Pass and Kayser received the Student Research Dissemination Grant while Navarre received the Professional Development for Campus Employees Grant, both from UW-Stout’s Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Associate Professor Chris Ferguson is the director of UW-Stout’s Honor College and vice president of the Upper Midwest Regional Honors Council. He and Xanthi Gerasimo, honors adviser and research coordinator, also presented in Boston on the topic of Honors College student contracts.

UW-Stout will host the Upper Midwest Regional Honors Conference April 4-6.

UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.



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