BYU students recognized for research during religious symposium

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BYU Religious Education Student Symposium chair Mark Wright welcomes guests and applauds participants at the awards banquet after the symposium. (Maddi Driggs)

BYU students shared their testimonies and stories of personal struggles at the 19th annual BYU Religious Education Student Symposium on Feb. 17.

The purpose of the symposium is to provide “a forum for students to research, write, and present papers about religious subjects from a faithful perspective,” according to the Religious Studies Center website.

There were 35 selected students who presented their research on a religious topic for 15 minutes. The topics varied with subjects like perfectionism, pornography, circumcision and honoring gender roles.

A number of participants won cash prizes for their research at the luncheon and selected papers will be published.

Mark Wright, BYU religion professor and chair of the student symposium, welcomed the participants, guest, and committee member to the awards banquet.

Wright said each paper goes through a double-blind peer review process and less than half of the papers submitted were chosen.

“I have been on this specific committee for several years now and this is the best batch of papers come across our desk,” Wright said.

The participants were congratulated for their hard work on their papers.

Associate dean of religious education Dana Pike expressed appreciation for the participants and guest who came to the symposium.

“We think that this student symposium in its 19th year is a valuable experience, both the research and analysis but the presentation stage which is a key to all good scholarship,” Pike said.

The first award presented was the Book of Mormon Central Award.

Executive director of Book of Mormon Central Kirk Magleby said the number of people in the world who know, understand and practice what the Book of Mormon teaches is very small.

Book of Mormon Central’s goal is to publish works that share the gospel and communicate and engage with younger generations through media.

“We would like to recognize what the committee thought was the very top religious paper here at the symposium,” Magleby said.

This award was given to Jennifer Ball, a junior majoring in communications, for her paper “Mulekites and Monarchy: An explanation of Political Difficulties Under Nephite Judges”.

Ball was not able to attend the symposium so Nick Frederick accepted the award in her behalf.

Rob Raker, the executive director of Mormon History Association, and Kevin Jones presented the Mormon History Association award. Nicholas Davis, a graduate student, received this award and cash prize for his paper on “Elders and Seventy Councils: 1834-1838.”

Finally, the cash awards were presented.

Douglas Archibald, Joseph Nephi Castro, Brette Bennett Hawks, Ryan Hemsley Joshua T. McCarty, Will Perez and David Wilcox each received a $500 cash prize.

Mathematics and Economics junior Jacob Valentine received the $1000 cash prize for his paper “An Eye for an Eye: Understanding the Disciple’s Path with Game Theoretic Mathematics.”

Economics senior Michael David Ricks received the $1500 cash prize for his paper “Preposition Suppositions: What do We Think Scripture Phrases Mean?”

Jennifer Ball, who won the Book of Mormon Central Award, also received the $2000 cash prize.

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