Thesis Defense

Thesis defense. These two words couldn’t scare me more. When I hear them, all I can think of is the huge amount of work lingering over my head. Literature review, methodology, data collection, results, suggestions. YIKES. However, I attended my first thesis defense last week, given by Sarah Latshaw. Sarah has been studying the painted bunting on Kiawah Island in effort to suggest ways to restore wildlife habitat on the island. She has been dedicated to this study for many years, and she has been awarded amazing funding opportunities. Her defense was well put together and articulated, and she truly proved how beneficial her research has been and will continue to be. She was, in essence, an inspiration for all of us just starting our thesis projects.

Still, I am a little frightened by the amount of work that is to come. As someone who just submitted my thesis proposal, I am in the very beginning stages of my research and data collection. However, after attending the defense, I know just what I have in store and what to look forward to when it is completed. I am in the MES program, and all MES students are required to conduct their own research for a thesis or to work 600 hours at an internship. Both, however, require a written report and an oral defense.

For many, the decision may seem easy. Why write a thesis when you can work an internship? Well, I’m sorry to say that the amount of work is the same. The difference, at least for the MES program, lies in whether you work directly with an organization to conduct research or whether you conduct your own research. Both options allow you 6 credit hours, which students typically use during their last semester, and both require hard work and dedication. Thus, the decision is not so clear. It really comes down to each student’s particular interest and what opportunities are available. This is great because students can really explore their options and chose something that really interests them. I was lucky enough to choose my topic of interest fairly early- the local food movement. I am really excited to start my project, but I’m sure once the school year starts things stress and procrastination will set in (look forward to future posts about this!).

For now, however, I will try to remember Sarah’s defense. I will try to aspire to her hard work and (hopefully) produce something as worthwhile and beneficial to the community as she did.

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