Ichabods In Depth

Published April 25, 2013

Washburn senior wins prestigious award at Great Plains Honors Council annual conference

Lucy Hesse

Washburn senior Lucy Hesse was recognized recently with the Dennis Boe award for top paper at the Great Plains Honors Council  annual conference, held in Canyon, Texas.

Hesse, who will graduate with a bachelor of business in economics in May, presented her honors thesis, The Development of Economic Systems: A Case Study of the Baltic States. She also shared the paper at the fall semester’s Day of Transformation. The spring Day of Transformation is Friday from 1-2 p.m. at the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center Ruth Garvey Fink Convocation Hall.

Paul Byrne, associate professor of economics in the School of Business, was Hesse’s mentor on the project. She asked Byrne to lead her independent study because she enjoyed his teaching style in two prior classes.

In the independent study, Byrne “provided a lot of supplemental readings, double-checked my economic analysis and helped me with a lot of graduate-level math,” Hesse said. “He was great to work with.”

Byrne credited Hesse for her hard work and self-motivation. Hers was the first independent study that he has directed.

"It’s always great to work with a student who really has a love for learning," Byrne said. 

The paper analyzed the development of the political and economic systems of the Baltic States – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – since their independence from the Russian Empire in the early 20th century. The idea came from work Hesse did last summer as a participant in the Engalitcheff Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems internship program in Washington, D.C. As part of that program, Hesse studied comparative economics and constitutional law at Georgetown University.

She got back to Topeka with a general idea of what she wanted to research for her honors thesis, which doubled as a project for the scholarly and creative Washburn Transformational Experience. “It is interesting," Hesse said, "because of the economic growth and political reorientation” within the Baltic States.

To be considered for the Dennis Boe Award Hesse submitted her paper about a month before the conference. It was judged against all other submissions from honors students from six states. Three awards were given in each of two categories, freshmen and sophomores and juniors and seniors. As an award winner, Hesse was asked give an oral presentation on her 20-page paper for about 10 minutes in front of all participants.

“It’s public speaking,” she said. “You have to get used to it sooner or later.”

 The best part about the conference, Hesse said, was meeting students from other universities. “It was an opportunity for all of the honors students to nerd-out about their papers.”  She wasn’t the only student who presented economic analysis and said it was great to have others to talk with about the intricacies of that work.

Originally from Topeka, Hesse is a graduate of Washburn Rural High School. In the fall she will attend Washburn School of Law.

“Washburn undergrad has been really great to me,” Hesse said. “I’ve had opportunities to grow here as a student. I think I will have the same opportunities, or more, with the law school.”