WT Students to Present Research at Regional Honors Conference


CANYON, Texas — Two West Texas A&M University Attebury Honors students will present their research into religion and healthcare at an upcoming regional conference. 

Madelyn Eatley, a senior political science major from Amarillo, and Elizabeth Ragan, a senior biology/pre-med major from Missouri City, will present at theGreat Plains Honors Council Conference from March 10 to 12 at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls.  

A third student—Tavia Spidel, a senior biochemistry major from Amarillo—will serve as a student moderator on a panel. 

The Attebury Honors Program has participated in the Great Plains Honors Council Conference for several years highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of the program and various undergraduate research activities, said Dr. Carolyn Baum, Attebury Honors director and assistant professor in the Department of Communication. 

“Attebury Honors Scholars represent some of WT’s brightest and most inquisitive students,” Baum said. “These students engage in unique, rigorous academic experiences that require critical thinking and leadership skills, communication competence, and collaborative efforts while maintaining a 3.75 or higher GPA. These scholars are often on the frontlines of the University, investigating research breakthroughs, examining contemporary issues, or stretching the arts and humanities to new heights.” 

Honors programs and students are represented from universities in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas. Students gain presentational skills, network with students and faculty from other universities, as well as receive feedback to refine their research and communication skills, Baum said. 

Eatley will present “Freedom of vs. Freedom from: Religion as a Social Power in the United States and France.” 

“I explore how religion is viewed in the countries’ founding documents and national culture, and discuss how these similarities or differences change how religion can be used as a form of societal power by the religious majority,” Eatley said. 

Ragan will present “Examining the Policies of The Affordable Care Act on Impoverished, African American Cancer Patients in Clinical Trials: A Review of the Literature.” 

“I’m looking at how effectively the Affordable Care Act covers oncology clinical trial expenses for lower-income African American patients,” Ragan said. “Unexpected medical and non-medical expenses can mean lower-income patients cannot afford free clinical trials. Several states and the federal government are addressing this issue through legislation.” 

Ragan also will serve as a student moderator on a panel about sediment, erosion and bird migration. 

The Great Plains Honors Council serves collegiate honors programs in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas. 

WT hosted the conference in 2013 and hopes to do so again, Baum said. 

Attebury Honors is one way in which WT actively builds undergraduate academic excellence in pursuit of being a Regional Research University, a key maxim of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. 

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched in September 2021 — has raised more than $120 million.