Cinnamon buns and scholarship
On November 26, Memorial University held the first ever Bake Your Thesis competition. Graduate students were invited to prepare a baked good and an abstract of their research, in a format that would be understandable to non-academics, for the event. Entries were judged based on aesthetics, flavor and the fit between research abstract and baked creation.
The event was offered by Memorial University’s Enhanced Development of the Graduate Experience (EDGE), as part of workshops and resources designed to help graduate students build diverse skills and competencies to be successful in graduate school and beyond.
Ms. Kelly Piercey, master of social work candidate of winter 2019, won the “best public communication” award.
Kelly, who works with young people, chose to depict the experience of trauma as cinnamon buns in the shape of a ribbon. Her thesis involves designing a best practices training module for social workers accepting disclosures from youth about sexual exploitation or abuse. Research shows that professional reactions during disclosure have a profound effect on how the victim will navigate their experiences.
Kelly compared her training module to a recipe. Before beginning baking, one needs to know the basics and follow the recipe. Sometimes a recipe is just a guide and other times you need to become comfortable enough to adjust the recipe and make it your own. Social workers must know best practices before working with youth and over time they can develop their own approach.
The cinnamon buns represent the youth and the layers and complexity of the dough represent the layers of trauma the youth has experienced, as well as protection of the vulnerable center. The ribbon represents sexual abuse survivors.
“I love to bake and would have been comfortable making a cake into any kind of structure,” explained Kelly. “But I didn’t want to dishonor the client’s traumatic experiences by having a visual of the dark topic.”
Kelly said she felt it was a great experience where she was able to share her ideas and research with students and faculty from other disciplines.