Skip to main content

College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

University of Dayton honors six undergraduate students for research in Catholic intellectual traditions

By Dave Larsen

Six University of Dayton students will be honored this month as the first recipients of the Fr. Jack McGrath, S.M., Award for Research in Catholic Intellectual Traditions, which recognizes outstanding undergraduate student research in a Common Academic Program course related to Catholic intellectual traditions.

The students’ work ranges from a study of historical writing about the Black church’s role in the reconstruction era to a musical recital that showcased the performer’s spiritual and musical journey during her time at the University.

The awardees receive a $500 stipend and will present their research from 5 to 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, and Thursday, Feb. 25, during two online Catholic intellectual tradition (CIT) celebrations.

The celebrations also feature prominent keynote speakers. On Feb. 22, Andrew L. Prevot, Boston College associate professor of theology, will address Mysticism and Ordinary Life. On Feb. 25, Robert Ellsberg, Orbis Books editor-in-chief, will discuss Writing About Holiness. Both events are on Zoom and open to the public.

“These are celebrations of the raison d'être of the University of Dayton,” said Timothy Gabrielli, Gudorf Chair in Catholic Intellectual Traditions and associate professor of religious studies. “At the heart of a UD education is inquiry driven by the conviction that careful reflection upon the breadth and depth of our lives — those lives we readily remember and those whom we’ve marginalized — is essential for growing in understanding, that profound gift of God.”

Gabrielli sponsors the McGrath Research Award. He is co-sponsoring the CIT celebrations with Sandra Yocum, University Professor of Faith and Culture.

This year’s McGrath Award honors projects conducted from the 2019 fall semester through the 2020 fall semester in the context of the Common Academic Program (CAP), a learning experience shared by all undergraduate students, regardless of their major. Three awardees each were selected in the first-year/sophomore and junior/senior categories from 20 student submissions.

The 2021 awardees:
  • Maya Drayton, a sophomore health sciences major from Hazel Crest, Illinois. Her project, completed for the Development of Western Culture in a Global Context, is Reconstruction’s Black Church and its Role in the Healing Process.
  • Margaret Feder, senior music education major from St. Louis. Her project, completed for the degree recital course, is Music as a Window to the Soul: The Story Behind My Senior Recital.
  • Emily Georgopoulos, senior biology major from Cincinnati. Her project, completed for The Road to Hell: The Apocalypse in Classical and Contemporary Forms, is Natural Selection: The Eschatological Role of Nature in 1 Enoch and Snowpiercer.
  • Emma Grace Geckle, senior religious studies and theology major from Cincinnati. Her project, completed for her capstone seminar course, is A Call for Renewal: How the Creation and Promulgation of Nostra Aetate Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations.
  • Emily Rotunda, a first-year religious studies and theology major from Fallbrook, California. Her project, completed for the Roots and Development of Western Culture in a Global Context, is The Argument of a Modern Psychopath: I See God on Sunday.
  • Mira Wilson, a first-year religious studies and theology major from Bellbrook, Ohio. Her project, completed for Faith Traditions: Topics in Religious Studies, is The Effects of Clerical Sexual Abuse on the God Question.

Gabrielli said Drayton and Feder’s projects presented unique perspectives on what it means to do research in conjunction with Catholic intellectual traditions.

“They were all good, but of course the awardees were particularly impressive,” he said. “The committee had a fun time reading these pieces because we were all just so enamored of our students’ great work, which we don’t always get to see when it happens in a particular class. The quality of the work was just astounding.”

Feder, a cellist, said her project was the culmination of 12 years of musical training and a lifetime of faith practice. For her senior recital, she selected pieces that mirrored her personal journey and paired each with a Beatitude to remind listeners to witness Christ in all aspects of their lives.“If I've learned anything from the last four years, it's that there is no right path, but rather a series of directions our lives can take through which God will work,” Feder said. “The Marianists have taught me that we are all missionaries called to witness Christ's beautiful and all-encompassing love for his people with the gifts we are given.”

Drayton looked at how the Black church helped the Black community with healing during reconstruction and worked to build that community into what it is today. She also looked at how historians’ views of Black people have changed over time.

“Personally, this recognition shows me that what I care about and the work I put into my research matters and that is something I will always be grateful for,” Drayton said. “Academically I think this award is the push I needed to see that not only do I belong at UD, but I can truly thrive here. This is also something that I will never forget and I thank the McGrath Award committee for giving me that.”

The McGrath Award is named in honor of alumnus Fr. Jack McGrath (1935–2015), a dedicated teacher who celebrated and embodied Marianist education in the Catholic intellectual tradition.

The award committee included Corinne Daprano, associate professor of health and sport sciences; David Fine, associate professor of English; Julio Quintero, associate director for inclusive excellence education and initiatives; Bill Trollinger, professor of history and Core program director; and Pam Young, director of accreditation and assessment, School of Education and Health Sciences.

To attend the Feb. 22 CIT celebration, use the Zoom link and the password 237132. To attend the Feb. 25 celebration, use the Zoom link and the password 701719.

For more information about the McGrath Award, visit the website.

Previous Post

College Faculty in the News: February 10, 2021

News agencies across the region, the nation and throughout the world often reach out to our faculty experts for their perspectives on today's issues. This media coverage highlights the service, research and scholarship taking place in the College of Arts and Sciences. Find links to a number of recent stories below.

Read More
Next Post

University of Dayton faculty, students and alumni challenge social injustice through virtual symposium on race

Julius Amin, professor of history and University of Dayton Alumni Chair in Humanities, has continually worked toward raising awareness of the need to eradicate racism within the campus community. Working with a planning committee, he will host the fourth annual Global Voices symposium, March 1-4, with this year’s focus on race relations on the University campus.

Read More