Capstone assignments land UA Little Rock students spot at honors conference

Nigel Spears and Desiree Doyle are Applied Communication majors who won $1000 each for their research projects in the Undergraduate Research Signature Experience Awards program.

Two University of Arkansas at Little Rock Department of Applied Communication students were recently selected to attend the Southern States Communication Association’s 28th annual Theodore Clevenger Undergraduate Honors Conference April 4-8 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nigel Spears of Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Desiree Doyle of Sherwood, Arkansas, were among 90 of 134 applicants from across the southern state region to be selected to attend the renowned conference, which provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to present and discuss their research with faculty and fellow students, as well as explore graduate study opportunities.

“Our department provides students with a variety of high-impact experiences, like capstone research and internships, and this is a great example of these types of experiences,” said April Chatham-Carpenter, chair of the Department of Applied Communication.

Spears and Doyle submitted their Capstone papers to conference organizer, Dr. Pamela Bourland-Davis from Georgia Southern University, to be judged by two of the Association’s faculty members. The judging criteria were based on the topic’s relevance to the field of communication, writing and organization, research thoroughness, inclusion and support of research methods, and final results or recommendations.

Spears scored well with his proposal, “African American Men vs. Society: How We Feel About Protesting.” Doyle’s submission of “The Culture Surrounding Masculinity and Male Victims of Domestic Violence,” ranked among the top 10 percent of papers submitted, leading her to be honored as a “Clevenger Scholar.”

“Seeing students apply their research interests to important issues like abuse and masculinity, and race and protests, like Desiree and Nigel have done, fits the mission of our department of helping to co-create better social worlds through positive communication,” Carpenter said.

The trip to the conference will be sponsored by funds from the UA Little Rock Signature Undergraduate Research Awards, as well as by the Department of Applied Communication.

For more information, contact Carpenter at


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