Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor
Junior Sarah Cooper was one of 211 students in the country to be awarded the 2018 Barry Goldwater Scholarship. This scholarship is a prestigious award for undergraduate research in science, engineering and mathematics.
Colleges across the country are asked to nominate one undergraduate researcher to apply for the scholarship. Cooper was nominated because she has worked with Dominic Qualley, associate professor of biochemistry, in his research on the bovine leukemia virus since her sophomore year.
According to Cooper, the application process involved a three-page research paper, essays and letters of recommendation. Assistant Professor of Chemistry Mark Turlington assisted her through the process.
“I kind of knew [the scholarship] was a big deal, but I’m learning that it’s even a bigger deal than I anticipated,” Cooper said. “I’m super excited for Berry to promote that and have younger scientists come here and see how awesome our work program is, and our sciences and our research program, because we’re doing awesome stuff.”
Cooper is excited that the prestige of the award will bring recognition to Berry’s science programs and allow the research to continue.
“Berry is actually giving our lab more funding, which is incredible,” Cooper said. “It’s awesome that Berry has been so supportive and they understand how big of a deal this is for the science community.”
Cooper plans to continue her research throughout the summer and her senior year as her Honors thesis and senior capstone project. She also said that the award will open up a lot of graduate school opportunities for her. This summer, she hopes to start looking at graduate programs in the biochemistry field.
Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier Staff Writer
The 2018 freshman class has begun paying deposits for the 2018 academic year. With each upcoming class, Berry finds new faces and backgrounds to welcome to the community.
Andrew Bressette, Vice President for Enrollment Management, said that student deposits are how the department can begin to estimate the number of students.
Bressette said that the number of applicants is an unreliable representation of the student body since it serves only to express interest in attending Berry. Once a student pays a deposit, however, become a committed member of the Berry community.
“There are currently 363 deposits,” Bressette said. “Last year at this time we had 399 deposits.”
Since the students have until mid-May to make a deposit, the current amount can still increase. Bressette said that the number of applicants, acceptances and FAFSA completions have all increased from 2017.
“In the recent years, high school seniors seem to take longer to make up their minds and decide where they want to go,” Bressette said. “This year is continuing that same pattern.”
Bressette said that it is not uncommon for deposits to seem low at this point in the year. He said that the low rates stem from students picking the right financial aid package, financial aid appeals and the right college. Specifically, Bressette said that female deposits are lower than male at this time.
To encourage students to come to Berry and consequently finalize their decision, a campaign began in Spring 2018. The campaign was called “Letter to Home” and featured Berry juniors and graduating seniors writing about their personal and professional lives. The letters explained why each student personally chose Berry and how it contributed to their development.
“Deans and department chairs were asked to nominate students that were thought to have good engagement and good stories to share,” Bressette said. “We tried to make sure we were choosing a breadth of different programs and a balance of gender and diversity.”
The student writers that were nominated represented different experiences and life paths. The intention was to make sure the reader could visualize themselves at Berry when reading the letter. By including a variety of writers, he wants to target applicants that have not yet decided and raise deposit rates.
On this site, you will find all of the Viking Fusion content prior to July 2018. For current content, visit vikingfusion.com.
Sophomore Emma Chambers overcomes visual disorder to enjoy the game that she loves.
Lauren Richardson, COM 353 Reporter
The general store from 1932 is now a resale store, run by the granddaughters of the original owner.
Allie Pritchett, Viking Fusion Executive Director
Restoration Rome, with assistance from Berry College Leadership Fellow students, is serving the community of Rome through aiding in the foster care process
Ben Lord, Reagan Whisenant and Brianna Black, COM 250 Reporters
Haley Edmondson, COM 303 Editor
Hannah Draut, Amberlee Williams and Faith McElvery, COM 250 Reporters
Hallie Marie McErlain and Bri Greyling, COM 303 Editors
The new expansion to Broad Street, Jerusalem Grill Express
Emily Reid, Nancy Belle Hansford, Ashley Mancuso and Yeji Han, COM 250 Reporters
Camille DeBrun, COM 303 Editor
Looking at costuming, set building, and props in BCTC
Samantha Warner, Jordan Leitch, Mercedes Smith and Matthew McConnell, COM 250 Reporters
Ashley Foreman and Isabelle Ryerson, COM 303 Editors
International Experiences and their new online program
AJ O’Brien, Alexander Mitropoulos, Heitor De Paula and Nathan Sims, COM 250 Reporters
Bailey Newhouse, COM 303 Editor
Heitor De Paula, COM 250 Reporter
MOUNT BERRY, Ga.- Berry College will introduce the new Service Fellows Scholarship for five upcoming freshmen in the fall of 2018 to begin building the program.
Berry College administration wants a group of hardworking students that will make a difference by using Berry College’s motto which says, “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” The Service Fellows Scholarship will recognize high school students for extraordinary service and leadership in their community.
Berry College’s administration will take one-fourth of the Leadership Fellows Scholarship’s funding in the fall of 2018, so additional money will not be required. The scholarship amount will be $3,000 for the freshman year, $4,000 for the sophomore year, $5,000 for the junior year and $6,000 for the senior year.
Director of Service Fellows Lindsey Taylor said she wants future Service Fellows students to display commitment, consistency and meet requirements beyond expectations. Based on the interviews that took place on Feb. 17, 2018, Taylor said it will be easy to choose the five Service Fellows students.
The freshman and sophomore year of the Service Fellows will revolve around the history of service at Berry College and self-discovery through volunteering. The junior and senior year will be based on understanding the community as well as how to lead and create change within volunteer management.
Service Fellows students will model the basic requirements and expectations of Leadership Fellows students, but they are still different in terms of responsibilities. The recipients of the Service Fellow scholarship will focus on why service is important.
Several Leadership Fellow students and Bonner scholarship students oppose the idea of the Service Fellows Scholarship.
“The creation of a new scholarship caught us by surprise,” Leadership Fellows student Reagan Whisenant said. “We also were not told that spots from our scholarship were going to be used to fund Service Fellows. I just wish we would have been more informed ahead of time, especially before we interviewed upcoming freshmen for the scholarship.”
“We are still working through how they will be overlap and how there will be separation between the two scholarships,” Director of Leadership Fellows Cecily Crow said.
“The Service Fellows Scholarship will be a lot different from the Bonner Scholarship,” Taylor said. “Bonner students get plugged in immediately into the community, while the Service Fellows students will work in the Berry College Volunteer Services office to understand the needs of Berry’s volunteer partners.”
In spring semester of 2019, the Service Fellows Scholarship will have their own application and interview process. The number of students chosen for the Service Fellows Scholarship will increase.
Administration plans to stop distributing the funding from the Leadership Fellows Scholarship and to rename financial aid for additional Service Fellows students in the future.
Kendall Aronson, Campus Carrier Asst. Arts & Living Editor
Finals Fest has made changes in their activities lineup this year in an effort to create a better experience for students. The event will be taking place on Saturday, April 21 from 6-9 p.m.
Finals Fest was created in 2016, combining Exam Jam and the Block Party into one cohesive night. It is the second biggest event on campus of the year, following Marthapalooza.
This year, Finals Fest will feature the bands Grizfolk and Nightly. There will also be many different activities that will be taking place as the bands perform, such as a hot air balloon, stunt jump, laser tag, inflatables, hungry hippos, jousting and DIY activities. The DIY activities will include a succulent booth, flower crowns, dream catchers and tie-dye. It is recommended that students bring a small bag to hold any items they create, or to be prepared to drop items off in their cars or dorms during the event. There will also be food options offered at the event, including authentic Mexican tacos, Kona Ice, Tornado Potatoes and funnel cake.
Everything will be free during the event except for the t-shirts. The shirts can be purchased for $6 for the white tank top and $10 for the blue comfort colors. This can be paid for through a student account. Volunteers will get shirts free.
This year, the Finals Fest Committee hopes to have the event feel more like a music festival. The bands will be playing outside for the duration of the event, and students can enjoy their food as they sit on blankets outside. They can also take breaks to do the other activities which are being offered.
Senior Kristian Willingham is the committee chair for Finals Fest this year, and she has overseen a lot of the decision-making and planning that goes into designing this large event.
“This year, we scaled back and got a less expensive artist than we have had in the past so we could spend more money on events and things to do there,” Willingham said. “In the future, if it is a really popular event, the budget might be bigger so they might have more opportunity to bring a more expensive artist that is more well-known. That just depends on how successful the event is this year, and really in the next five years.”
Willingham wanted to focus on branding this year, which will give Finals Fest more stability and consistency for years to come.
“Our goal this year has really been to brand the event and give students expectations like they have with Marthapalooza,” Willingham said. “We want to brand a logo and maybe to bring the hot air balloon every year. That’s what our goal has been this year: to really narrow down on our focus.”
The committee has been planning Finals Fest since October, but most of the preparation took place this semester. This year’s preparation has been easier than years past because the committee has a better idea of what they want the event to look like.
Sophomore Katie Ott is on the marketing committee, which is one of many committees that make Finals Fest successful. Each committee brings ideas to the whole group and is in charge of executing them.
“For marketing, we’ve done a lot of work in preparation for the event,” Ott said. “We’ve made posters and t-shirts, and we are in charge of running the tie-dye event. Other committees are in charge of getting contracts with vendors, and different fun elements that will be at Finals Fest.”
Everyone on all the committees comes together to choose which artists will perform and what color the t-shirts will be. There will be a tie-dye event on the Krannert Lawn from 5-7 p.m. on Thursday April 19 to promote the event.
“(Finals Fest is) a great way to de-stress,” Ott said. “This year we’re offering a lot of different things that I think everyone will have something to enjoy. We have a lot of great food vendors and activities, and it’s just a fun thing for everybody.”
John Catton, Campus Carrier Features Editor
Leo Narrison, Campus Carrier Asst. Features Editor
John Catton | CAMPUS CARRIER Senior Dexter Serrao explains his solution to making ride-sharing more accessible within the local community.
It’s late Friday night in the Hackberry lab. Students powered by Sprite and pizza, seek to find creative solutions to common problems facing the Rome community.
The event is Berry College’s latest Hackathon, but with a twist: it lasts 24 hours, the first in school history.
“Berry has done 4- hour Hackathons in the past, but never one this long before,” Zane Cochran, Instructor of Creative Technology said, “Seeing how far our students can take an idea in 24 hours is really encouraging.”
The event was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Augusta University, and with local partners in Rome through Makervillage Inc.
The purpose of the Hackathons is to allow students to find creative solutions to local challenges such as water use, car sharing, and making exercise fun.
These categories were generated after local leaders used public health records to find challenges facing the Rome community.
Junior Graham Wildmann works on programming his idea of using a bike as a video game controller to combat inactivity.
“Physical environment and physical inactivity are Rome’s biggest challenges,” Tricia Steele, president and co founder of Makervillage INC, said. “We are very good at clinical care, but physical activity is the number one driver of public health.
Berry was chosen as the Hackathon venue because the Hackberry lab is an adequate space with plenty of resources for the event with many interested students.
Winners included junior creative tech major Graham Widmann and senior creative tech major, Jerome Payne.
Widmann’s idea to combat local inactivity was to make physical activity more fun, by combining video games and biking. He accomplished this by making any type of bike a video game controller. He hopes to expand on his innovative idea in the future.
Payne generated an idea for an app that would make car- sharing easier. His solution included matching people going the same direction. He believes his greatest challenge was coding the information in the 24 hours.
Hackberry Lab founder Zane Cochran pitches his idea for ride-sharing within the healthcare community.
Despite the difficulties, the students preserved and presented their solutions to a panel of local community members on Saturday. Cochran was impressed by with the results, and plans on creating more 24-hour Hackathons in the future.
“I was very impressed by how our students created meaningful and creative solutions to our local problems with a real impact,” Cochran said.
The winners of the Hackathon won cash prizes of $500 each and entrance to the state Hackathon later this year.
Senior Jerome Payne expands upon his idea to innovate ride-sharing by matching people that are traveling the same direction.
Jessie Goodson, Campus Carrier News Editor
Allie Pritchett, Viking Fusion Executive Director
UPDATED story April 30, 2018
On Sunday, the Berry College community mourned the loss of the fifth student death this academic year after senior Anna Trahan died from a cancerous tumor.
“Many of you have had Anna in your prayers as she battled this very aggressive cancer this semester,” Dean of Students Debbie Heida said Monday morning in an campus-wide email. “As a college community that loves deeply, our hearts are broken and we grieve with her mother, Tamara, and her sister, Sunny, who is also a Berry senior.”
Trahan, of Cartersville, learned of her cancerous tumor on Jan. 16 after experiencing increasing pain near her lower spine. Test results showed the 10-centimeter tumor was pushing against a nerve in the curve of her tailbone.
Funeral arrangements have not been made at this time, according to Heida.
Previous Story posted on February 8, 2018
Senior Anna Trahan, an animal science major and women and gender studies minor, has been involved with Campus Outreach at Berry and stayed busy with her major. Just before the start of her last semester of undergrad, Trahan got news of a tumor in her lower spine.
On Jan. 16, after further testing and scans, Trahan was informed that the tumor formed in the curve of her tailbone was cancerous. The tumor, about 10 centimeters in size, is pushing against a nerve, causing pain to Trahan and increasing the risks of treatment.
“I’ve had a lot of medical issues, so it’s not necessarily surprising to me,” Trahan said. “It’s just another thing that I have to overcome, and that’s fine with me.”
There aren’t many doctors specialized in tumors like this one, so the cost of treatments is high. Insurance doesn’t cover everything, which leaves the Trahan family to pay the rest of it. A GoFundMe me was created to help the family raise money for treatment. As of Feb. 7, according to the fundraising page, $2,325 has been raised out of the $15,000 goal by 51 people in 17 days.
Trahan is taking a leave of absence this semester, alongside her twin sister, Alexandra Trahan. Trahan and her sister have been attending Berry together for four years, both animal science majors and taking those classes together. Alexandra will be with her sister throughout treatment, and they both plan to return to Berry and complete their undergrad in the fall.
“We’re looking at this as sort of a blessing in disguise, because it’s been nonstop Berry since freshman year,” Anna Trahan said. “This gives us a chance to break.”
Trahan will undergo radiation treatment during her leave of absence, with the possibility of surgery. She said that she is mentally doing okay, and that this is just an obstacle to get over.
“I know I can overcome it and get through it,” Trahan said.
For anyone interested in donating to Trahan’s GoFundMe, the page can be found online at http://www.gofundme.com/rztvf9-cancerous-tumor.
The Berry College softball team recently clinched their sixth straight conference title, and looks poised to be a threat in the NCAA tournament.
Noah Syverson, Viking Fusion Reporter
Cassie LaJeunesse, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor
After 46 years in education, Professor of English, Rhetoric and Writing and English Department Chair Tom Dasher is retiring at the end of this semester. Dasher has worked at Berry since 2000, when he was hired as provost under former president Scott Colley. He served in that position for seven years, after which he became a professor in the English department. When he entered the department, Associate Professor of English Jim Watkins was the department chair. According to Watkins, Dasher’s specialty is in Southern literature, but that specialization was duplicated in the department at the time.
“At that point, he was very flexible about the kind of classes he would cover,” Watkins said. “He became a model departmental citizen, teaching classes that we needed covered.”
Dasher’s colleagues and students describe him as supportive. Associate Professor of English Christina Bucher, who will serve the next term as English department chair, said that Dasher has always supported her within the department and in her personal scholarly pursuits. She also praised his support of students within the English department.
“He’s very interested in highlighting the accomplishments of our majors, and in finding ways to build the major,” Bucher said.
Senior Meredith Walker said she has found Dasher to be a wonderful mentor in her time at Berry. One of Dasher’s advisees, Walker said that he has encouraged her in her English and education majors and supported her in the classes she has taken with him.
“Hearing about the impact he’s had on past students and continues to have on students really inspires me for my teaching career,” Walker said. “I want to be that teacher for someone someday, that will inspire them in that way.”
Walker has taken four classes with Dasher and enjoys learning from him.
“He is a tough grader, but you don’t learn anything if you don’t challenge yourself,” Walker said. “
As provost, Dasher was instrumental in the formation of the Interfaith Council.
“I think that it has been a force for creating greater religious diversity and awareness in the whole campus of other religions,” Dasher said.
Watkins stressed that Dasher has always been supportive of diversity at Berry.
“He’s been a tireless advocate for inclusion and diversity in the college,” Watkins said.
Before coming to Berry, Dasher received his bachelor’s degree from Davidson College, his master’s degree from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. He taught developmental English at Georgia Southern University, then served at Valdosta State University as head of the English department for 11 years and Dean of Arts and Sciences for six years.
“I never thought that I would spend 40 years teaching, but you know, teaching isn’t bad,” Dasher said with a smile. “In fact, it’s been a great joy. There’s nothing better than loving something passionately and then working with young people to help them to perhaps develop the same passion.”
Upon retirement, Dasher plans to continue to live in Rome and has many ideas for how to spend his time. He hopes to travel, read a lot, audit classes and possibly pick up the piano again.
“You have to recognize when it’s time to see what comes next,” Dasher said. “I’ve always believed that whatever you did, whether you were in your 20s, your 40s or your 60s, should matter, so I’m sure that I will get involved in volunteer activities. They’re things that I care passionately about and I would certainly welcome the opportunity to use what I’ve learned over this year and this life to serve others.”
Though he looks forward to his retirement, Dasher said he will miss Berry and teaching.
“It’s bittersweet,” Dasher said. “There are not a lot of people who can retire and say ‘I retired doing what I love’.”
Rebekah Mason, Campus Carrier Staff Writer
Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for the past few weeks, a running group has met outside of the McAllister building. Sophomore Joseph Aucoin came up with the idea for this group with the hopes of having others fall in love with running the way he has. He started running in seventh grade and has been an avid runner ever since, running in the Berry Half Marathon and Rome Half Marathon this year. Joseph started the group with the help of fellow classmate, sophomore Nicholas Lorch.
The goal of this group is to “form a solid running community at Berry that is able to support the activity so that no one who is trying to get into running or keep up with training feels alone” Aucoin said.
The group is open to all skill levels and has attracted on average three to five people per session, but they hope to grow. The turnout has been highly dependent on weather conditions according to Lorch. They had around 10 runners on a day that was “sunny and seventy-five”, a few weeks back.
The runs this semester have varied based on those who participate. If numbers increase they hope to implement a system of splitting runners into groups based on skill set and assigning each group with a captain. These groups would be in place to help accommodate different paces and distances.
“We set up the interest group with a few captains who are able to run with more experienced runners that would like special training as well as stay back with beginners so that we can provide the encouragement and advice necessary to find a love of running,” Aucoin said.
Runners participating in this group can expect safe and organized runs that are focused on physical health and development. To reduce any possible injury, each run begins with a warm up and a cool down.
“We will not push a beginner past his limits or force a more advanced runner to stay back from hers,” Aucoin said.
The group invites any student, faculty, staff or family to come and participate. According to Aucoin, they try to make running as fun as possible by playing games, singing and cracking jokes all the time.
“We do our best to leave stress behind so that any and all can have a pleasant experience,” Aucoin said.
Victoria Pierce, Campus Carrier Staff Writer
Avery Boulware, Campus Carrier Editor-in-Chief
With graduation just around the corner, the seniors are preparing to finally leave the Berry Bubble.
Berry College’s Career Center has put on around 150 events this year to help prepare seniors and other upperclassmen for the job force. These events included mock interviews, internship workshops, networking events and Worthwhile Work sessions.
“We plan these different events so that the students are the best prepared for the job market,” Career Center Director Sue Tarpley said.
Each senior has a new journey that is just about to start. For many, it will be immediately entering the work force. Public relations major Anna Walker said she is excited to be moving to Orlando to start her job at the Student Leadership University, where she will be working as a program and administrative assistant. Accounting and finance major Nick O’Conner will start work at AON, an insurance company. Leah Berndt is going to be a Registered Nurse in the Progressive Care Unit at St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. Berndt is looking forward to “taking care of cardiac and neuro patients as well as patients’ undergoing cardiac procedures.”
For other seniors, the next step will be to further their education. Senior Rebekah Mason has chosen to attend the Briarwood Fellows program in Birmingham, Ala., a selective Christian program designed to help college graduates transition into the workforce.
However, not every senior has their future plans all set in stone. But the Career Center continues to offer students tips to build their resume and continue to more effectively apply for jobs or identify other areas that students are passionate about pursuing after graduation on May 5.
As our nation progresses more and more toward becoming a media-centric society, classical or canonical art is gradually becoming less and less reserved as the most scholastic or reputable literature or art. The lines between high and low culture are becoming increasingly blurred. However, though this seems like it would be beneficial in uniting an incredibly polarized culture, there has often been backlash when a work of art crosses from low to high.
This past week, Kendrick Lamar’s most recent album, DAMN, won the Pulitzer Prize for music. This win was unprecedented because before now, winners of the award have only ever been either jazz or classical compositions. With this win, the Pulitzer committee has shown that they are not only in touch with popular opinion, but value it something other prestigious selection committees like The Academy do not seem to care about.
This issue also gained national attention when Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016, becoming the first songwriter to do so. He was awarded the prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” according to the committee. But many rejected the selection as they have done with Lamar, arguing that the rules were being bent in order to cater to popular opinion or to stir up shock value.
While it’s easy for critics of wins such as Dylan’s and Lamar’s to claim their works to be undeserving of awards reserved for more classical, “high culture” pieces, they fail to realize what mass media has done to create a level playing field for artists. Before the creation of the internet and subsequent social media, it was very clear to see the distinction between high and low culture.
Aesthetes would not even come into contact with literature like dime novels or artists producing cheap records. But now it is easy for the average consumer to track down what films are doing well at Sundance or SXSW that are getting Oscar buzz, and consumers that consider themselves to have higher taste still take their children to see films like John Cena’s “Ferdinand.” There is no high and low culture for social media. Anyone can see what is trending on Twitter. Anyone can follow artists, writers and actors on Instagram.
Furthermore, consumers are not identifying themselves by the music or art that they consume because of these lines becoming blurred. People are becoming less and less defined by a distinct music type or movie genre they enjoy. Instead, consumers pick and choose what they enjoy. They can do this because of the wide breadth of genres that internet users are naturally exposed to, simply by browsing news sites or social media.
For example, pop (“popular”) music used to be distinguishable by the sound of the music. Though this is still somewhat the case, it has become increasingly clear that any genre can be popular. For example, rap/hip-hop music recently passed rock music as the most widely listened-to genre in America.
The playing field is being leveled for both what is considered popular and what is considered excellent. And, as we have seen with Lamar’s DAMN, a piece of art can be considered both.
Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier Copy Editor
It’s that time of year again. The time when everyone is asking you “What’re your plan for the future?” In my life right now, answering that question isn’t a necessity. It’s the end of my freshman year. I still have three years ahead of me to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life. But for seniors, it’s a completely different story. The rest of their life starts in a little over two weeks. That question I asked before is starting to become more of reality for them than it is for me.
I remember being asked in high school that same question right before graduation. I felt the nerves settle in as I tried to think about what the future could hold for me. I spent weeks stressing over what I wanted to major in and what I career I wanted. Everyone around me seemed to have a life plan, and here I was, staring at the blank page that became my life.
Graduation quickly passed, and soon I was moved into my dorm and ready to start college. I came in with a basic plan: I would hopefully graduate in 4 years as an English major and a theatre minor. I finally felt as if I had a life plan. That was until I started my classes. The plan I had scheduled didn’t feel right, and I was back at square one. I was, again, faced with looking into the unknown as all my friends around me started creating plans for their lives. I envied my brother during this time especially. Ever since high school, he knew he wanted to be a psychiatrist. He knew he would attend four years of undergraduate, then another four years of medical school, followed by at least two years in a residency program. It seemed that as soon as one stage ended, he was onto the next scheduled stage in his life plan.
I learned very quickly that college is about experiencing life rather than worrying about it. It’s about trying different things so that when I get asked that question again, I will eventually have an answer. I can finally say that I believe it’s OK not to have a plan. Majors change every week because students are testing out the different areas of life that they enjoy.
I came into college as an English major and theatre minor, and now I have switched to a communications- journalism major, with English and dance minors. I never would have imagined I would be studying these things, but I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
If you are unsure about your future, don’t worry. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do for the rest of your life by the time graduation hits. If we spend our lives worrying about the future, then we will never get to experience and live our future.
So freshmen, experience everything there is in college. Learn what it’s like to try different majors and participate in different activities. And seniors, life doesn’t end when you don’t have a plan after graduation. If anything, life begins. It’s time to take everything you’ve learned in college and implement it in the real world. Maybe not today, but eventually you will be able to answer: “what’s your plan for the future?”
Avery Boulware, Campus Carrier Editor-in-Chief
It’s not just a song you get stuck in your head after a day at Disney World. “It’s A Small World After All” is a social phenomenon long considered a myth until social psychologist Stanley Milgram proved it to be true in the 1960’s.
Milgram’s “small world experiment” was based on the idea that any two people are connected by only a few “degrees of separation,” or someone who knows someone who knows someone, et cetera. And, though Milgram’s exact results were up for debate, the overall findings still ring true—an encouraging thought in a time of extreme social and political polarization.
Milgram began his experiment by giving a brown folder to a wheat farmer in Kansas. His task was to somehow get that folder to its final destination: Alice, a college student in Boston. The farmer was told to give the folder to someone that he thought may know Alice. Since Alice was a divinity school student, the farmer gave the folder to an Episcopalian minister in town. The minister then gave it to a friend in Boston, and the folder quickly found its way to Alice.
The experiment was repeated hundreds of times, and each exchange took anywhere between two and ten links from start to finish. The average number of links was five. This shocked the public. Before conducting the experiment, Milgram took a poll to find out how many links were thought to connect any two people. Some said 10, some said 100, some said it’s impossible to tell.
The experiment gained mainstream attention through the 1990 play-turned-film Six Degrees of Separation, in which one character is quoted with saying “I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The president of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names.”
The phenomenon even became a game of speculation concerning the entertainment world: “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.” Because he had acted in so many films with so many stars, a game arose by trying to connect any given actor or actress to Kevin Bacon in under six links. Of course, this game worked in the 90’s when Bacon seemed to be the center of the entertainment universe. Unfortunately, the game is outdated now, but the jury is out on who the new center of the entertainment universe is.
Though “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” may be outdated, the small world phenomenon is not. In fact, it is more applicable than ever through social media. Of course, this is an important thing to remember when posting, because you never know who is going to see what you’ve shared. But it should also be a comfort. The small world phenomenon is what makes online dating, moving to a different city, or traveling less scary. It makes it possible for missed connections to become friendships, or for a lost teddy bear to find its way home. It is a small world after all.