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Senior Honors Presentations - Class of 2021

“so reputed / In dignity, and for the liberal arts / Without a parallel”

~ Shakespeare, The Tempest (1.2.72-74)

On behalf of the University Honors Program and her students, we invite you to celebrate the work of our Honors Seniors. These projects serve as the capstone of the Honors experience at the Mount. They are the result of many months of intense research and the enthusiastic support of faculty mentors, all of whom hold the highest degrees in their subject areas.

As passionate teachers and scholars who call students to engage in meaningful and challenging questions, we share in the successes of our students. Their virtues are our privilege.

Students, we know that the journey was demanding and we have been honored witnesses to your outstanding endeavors to this end. To be sure, the completion of your work marks an important transitional period in your lives. You have successfully taken on a large project that has required you to engage in many constantly evolving fields of study. Now, the fruits of your labor have made these disciplines different from what they were. You have shaped what is to come.

Honors Seniors of the Class of 2021, your success is how we recognize ours. You are our future, and we are Mount proud! CONGRATULATIONS!

Sarah K. Scott, Ph.D.
Director, University Honors Program
Professor, Department of English

Presentations listed in alphabetical order by the presenter's last name.

Julia Baer
Biology and Chemistry
The Impacts of Polyethylene (PE) Microplastics on Bacteria-Bacteriophage Communities in Freshwater Environments
julia baer
Mentor: Eric Sakowski, Ph.D.
The Impacts of Polyethylene (PE) Microplastics on Bacteria-Bacteriophage Communities in Freshwater Environments
Abstract
Microplastics can have harmful effects on microorganisms in the environment, but their effects on free-living bacteria and bacteriophages have not been widely studied. To address this knowledge gap, the effects of microplastic exposure on microbial diversity and growth were observed using qPCR, DNA fingerprinting, and high-throughput sequencing analysis.
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Nathaniel Bald
Economics
The University and Civil Society: Renewal of the Human Person
nathaniel bald
Mentor: John Larrivee, Ph.D.
The University and Civil Society: Renewal of the Human Person
Abstract
This project analyzes the intellectual trends in the university beginning in the Progressive Era and asks how our shifting view of the human person has gradually changed our view of civil society. I argue for a more sophisticated vision of the human person in economics and other social and behavioral sciences.
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Katherine Bieraugel
Business
Lessons Learned from the Coronavirus Pandemic
kate bieraugel
Mentor: Mike Barry, Ph.D.
Lessons Learned from the Coronavirus Pandemic
Abstract
This study investigates the lessons learned from the economic crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic in China, the US, and Italy.
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Kate Burke
Biology
Understanding DNA Repair Machinery: The Characterization of the Binding Interaction of Ubiquitin and ASCC2
kate buke
Mentor: Patrick Lombardi, Ph.D.
Understanding DNA Repair Machinery: The Characterization of the Binding Interaction of Ubiquitin and ASCC2
Abstract
Reliable detection of genetic insults is crucial for ensuring normal functioning of an organism. The ASCC-ALKBH3 repair complex is recruited to sites of DNA damage by K63-linked polyubiquitin molecules. This research studies the binding relationship between ASCC2 and K63-linked polyubiqtuin to further understand this complex and its clinical applications.
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Elizabeth Cabral
Business
How to Increase the Productivity of a Team
elizabeth cabral
Mentor: Christina Yoder, Ph.D.
How to Increase the Productivity of a Team
Abstract
This project focuses on how to increase productivity within a team to improve the team's overall performance and teamwork. Looking at qualities such as teamwork, collaboration, and empathy among team members can help to create an ideal team that is both productive and creative.
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Laurence Canete
Computer Science
Living in the Void: The Future of Space Colonization
laurence canete
Mentor: Brian Heinold, Ph.D.
Living in the Void: The Future of Space Colonization
Abstract
This project looks into the advancements of space exploration and the plans of the scientific community to make humanity a multi-planet civilization.
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Thomas Carter
Sociology
From the Perspective of a Military Child
thomas carter
Mentor: Layton Field, Ph.D.
From the Perspective of a Military Child
Abstract
I look into the differences between military and civilian children, including psychological effects, education, and diversity of experience. I also include my own personal experiences as being a military child, showing how the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
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Jocelyn Castillo
Accounting
The Robotic Accountant: An Exploration of Robotic Process Automation in Accounting
jocelyn castillo
Mentor: John V. Sherwin, JD
The Robotic Accountant: An Exploration of Robotic Process Automation in Accounting
Abstract
This project seeks to explain how Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will affect the accounting industry. RPA has the potential to bring benefits and consequences. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of RPA has been accelerated in many accounting firms. The project concludes by offering advice to future accounting students.
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Taylor Cook
Political Science
China's Monopoly on Human Rights
knott academic center
Mentor: Allison Berland, Ph.D.
China's Monopoly on Human Rights
Abstract
This paper examines China’s influence on human rights in the international community as it pertains to the country’s time as a member on the United Nations Human Rights Council. I analyze several of China’s specific proposals to the Council, and incidents of intimidation used by China toward human rights advocates.
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Gabriela Cranga
Elementary Education
Educate Them in a Christian way of life: A Critical Analysis of 7th Grade Catechesis Texts for Developmental Awareness and Spiritual Growth
gabriela cranga
Mentor: Carolyn Cook, Ph.D.
Educate Them in a Christian way of life: A Critical Analysis of 7th Grade Catechesis Texts for Developmental Awareness and Spiritual Growth
Abstract
This project utilizes critical text analysis to determine the presence of developmental and spiritual themes in catechetical texts. It explores how Diocesan approved and curriculum-based textbooks guide the Christian educator for instruction and suggests practical implications for all religious educators and ministers to consider.
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Kerri Czekner
Biochemistry
Safer Synthesis of Novel Triphenylpyrylium Salts with Push-Pull Electronic Systems
Kerri Czeckner
Mentor: Isaac Mills, Ph.D.
Safer Synthesis of Novel Triphenylpyrylium Salts with Push-Pull Electronic Systems
Abstract
A safer-than-standard procedure for the synthesis of triphenylpyrylium salt derivatives with methoxyphenyl and fluorophenyl substituents was established via a chalcone intermediate dehydrocyclized with a hydrogensulfate counterion rather than the traditional dangerous perchlorate counterion. The photoelectronic tunability of the system was characterized by ultraviolet-visible spectrum, fluorescence data, and redox stability.
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Gloria DeMoura
Theology and Communication
Improving Formation for the Discernment of Married Life
Gloria DeMoura
Mentor: Paige Hochschild, Ph.D.
Improving Formation for the Discernment of Married Life
Abstract
An analysis of theological texts and church documents and a research analysis of interviews from Catholic campus ministers from around the country. I argue that young people need better formation when discerning married life during higher education by identifying the main challenges that young people face when dating.
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Nicholas Dinunzio
English and Philosophy
Capitalism, Epistemology, and Narrative Structure in Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds
knott academic center
Mentor: Jack Dudley, Ph.D.
Capitalism, Epistemology, and Narrative Structure in Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds
Abstract
A look into capitalism's supposed alteration of epistemological systems that subsequently impact the formation of narratives within modernity.
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Rachel Donohue
Visual Arts and Communication
Distinct: National Juried Exhibition
rachel donohue
Mentor: Elizabeth Holtry, M.F.A.
Distinct: National Juried Exhibition
Abstract
Artists selected for the exhibition explore issues related to identity and diversity, such as race or gender, and reveals how these issues are pertinent on a personal or societal level. Works were chosen on an interpretive and formal analysis. This conceptually-sound exhibition encourages viewers to acknowledge and include individuals’ distinctness.
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Maria Elser
English Education
Tense Contemporaries: The Relationship Between Fitzgerald and Hemingway
maria elser
Mentor: Dave Wehner, Ph.D.
Tense Contemporaries: The Relationship Between Fitzgerald and Hemingway
Abstract
This project examines the personalities and interactions of Hemingway and Fitzgerald. In viewing anecdotes about these men and reading their correspondence to one another, the literary world can shed some light upon the immensely complex entity that was the relationship between the two. They were neither altogether friends nor altogether rivals.
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Hannah Golway
Criminal Justice
The Evolvement of Rapid DNA: A Revolution in the Criminal Justice System
hannah golway
Mentor: Joseph J. Vince
The Evolvement of Rapid DNA: A Revolution in the Criminal Justice System
Abstract
Due to the advancement of Rapid DNA analysis, DNA profiles, which once took months or even years to process, can now be developed in less than two hours. This project dives into the importance of this technological innovation, taking note of the advantages its current deployment offers and contemplating its future.
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Lauren Gray
Chemistry
Quantifying the Contributions of E64 and T66 to the ASCC2:K63Ub2 Interaction [b subscript 2]
lauren gray
Mentor: Patrick Lombardi, Ph.D.
Quantifying the Contributions of E64 and T66 to the ASCC2:K63Ub2 Interaction [b subscript 2]
Abstract
The ASCC2:K63Ub2 binding interaction is responsible for recruiting repair complexes to sites of DNA damage. Previous studies indicate that proximal ubiquitin residues E64 and T66 participate in the binding interaction. To quantify the individual contributions of E64 and T66 to binding affinity, ubiquitin mutants containing either E64A or T66A were studied using isothermal titration calorimetry.
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Mary Hamilton
English
Trauma and Gender in Anna Burns's Milkman
knott academic center
Mentor: Jack Dudley, Ph.D.
Trauma and Gender in Anna Burns's Milkman
Abstract
Through various postmodern literary techniques, Anna Burns creates indeterminacy in her 2018 novel Milkman by naturalizing oppressive structures and imploring critical engagement with the art we consume and our own oppressive structures.
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Henry Hoffman
History
How Northern Cavalry Saved the Union
henry hoffman
Mentor: Curtis Johnson, Ph.D.
How Northern Cavalry Saved the Union
Abstract
The rebirth of the Union cavalry in the Eastern Theater helped the North achieve victory in the American Civil War. More tactically minded cavalry troopers, greater quantity and quality of armaments, improved tactics, and more aggressive leadership throughout the Eastern Theater significantly contributed to the victory.
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Adrianna Hyland
History
Axis to Allies: A Study of the Post World War II Relations Between the United States and Germany
adrianna hyland
Axis to Allies: A Study of the Post World War II Relations Between the United States and Germany
Abstract
This project studies the foreign policy that occurred during and after World War II to turn Germany into a successful democratic nation. It pays special attention to the United States' efforts in transforming their relationship with post-war Germany.
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Kayla Kebreau
Biology
The Relationship Between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Mental Health: Does a Higher ACE Score Correlate to a Greater Risk of Sensory Processing Disabilities?
kayla kebreau
Mentor: Angie Kallarackal, Ph.D.
The Relationship Between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Mental Health: Does a Higher ACE Score Correlate to a Greater Risk of Sensory Processing Disabilities?
Abstract
Early-life experiences are highly influential in the development of major structures within the body and as the prevalence of adversity increases it is becoming increasingly important to understand the effects of trauma on different sensory modalities. Due to the dearth of research, childhood adversity and the risk of developing sensory disabilities in adult life were examined.
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Ivan Korpics
Sport Management and Business
Do Different Coaching Techniques and Philosophies Effect the Development of Division I Student-Athletes?
ivan korpics
Mentor: Corinne Farneti, Ph.D.
Do Different Coaching Techniques and Philosophies Effect the Development of Division I Student-Athletes?
Abstract
Coaches are a huge part of a college athlete's experience. In this project I look into whether certain coaching techniques and philosophies help develop student athletes while they are in college and prepare them for a life outside athletics.
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Matthew McDonald
Mathematics and Computer Science
Yelling Fire in a Movie Theater: Creating a Crowd Panic Simulation Program
matthew mcdonald
Mentor: Brian Heinold, Ph.D.
Yelling Fire in a Movie Theater: Creating a Crowd Panic Simulation Program
Abstract
This project created and evaluated an original crowd panic simulation program for modeling crowd evacuation times resulting from a crisis. While similar programs have been created, none are publicly available.
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Mary Mulligan
Theology and History
The Ennoblement of the Ignoble: Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings
mary mulligan
Mentor: Josh Brown, Ph.D.
The Ennoblement of the Ignoble: Samwise Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings
Abstract
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien expresses multiple theological themes, one of the most prominent being a Catholic articulation of a life well-lived. Using the character of Sam Gamgee, this presentation examines a set of five virtues that contribute to life well lived, drawing upon the faith and life experiences of Tolkien.
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Joseph Oleskey
Psychology
A Quantitative Analysis of Stimulus Control in a Delay-Discounting Task
coad science building
Mentor: Jonathan Slezak, Ph.D.
A Quantitative Analysis of Stimulus Control in a Delay-Discounting Task
Abstract
A delay discounting task was performed with rats entailing a choice between a small immediate reward and a larger delayed reward. The presence of an antecedent stimulus had no effect on subject choice; however, delay presentation seemed to increase preference for larger rewards in random delays. A further, more comprehensive, quantitative analysis was also completed.
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Emmanuella Osei-Asante
Biology
Determining the Structural Basis for ASCC2 CUE/Ubiquitin Binding
coad science building
Mentor: Patrick Lombardi, Ph.D.
Determining the Structural Basis for ASCC2 CUE/Ubiquitin Binding
Abstract
We seek to understand how repair complexes are recruited to DNA alkylation damage sites. Specifically, we will focus on the binding interaction between the repair complex and a signal produced in response to DNA damage. Small angle x-ray scattering will be used to structurally characterize the interaction.
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Bradley Owen
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Synthesis of Novel Schiff Base Zinc Ligands and Complexes for Photocatalysis
coad science building
Mentor: Isaac Mills, Ph.D.
Synthesis of Novel Schiff Base Zinc Ligands and Complexes for Photocatalysis
Abstract
Schiff Base Ligands easily bind to metals to form complexes which can exhibit photocatalytic properties. The goal of this project was to synthesize novel Schiff Base ligands with varied substituents and their respective zinc complexes. The complexes were then characterized, and their properties were analyzed for their effectiveness as photocatalysts.
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Lizanne Passaro
Biology
Mutagenesis and Ligation in C-Terminal Domain of Geosmin Synthase Gene
lizanne passaro
Mentor: Patrick Lombardi, Ph.D.
Mutagenesis and Ligation in C-Terminal Domain of Geosmin Synthase Gene
Abstract
Geosmin synthase, a bifunctional monomeric class I terpenoid synthase from Streptomyces coelicolor, is known for catalyzing a specific, metal-dependent reaction that converts a linear molecule into an abnormal bicyclic terpenoid. DNA mutagenesis was performed on the Geosmin synthase gene and was integral to DNA ligation in PMALc2xHV vector through Sac1 and HINDIII restriction enzyme cut sites.
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Ethan Pham
Biochemistry, Biology, and Chemistry
Determination of the Atomic Resolution and 3-D Structure of the Geosmin C-Terminal Domain
ethan pham
Mentor: Patrick Lombardi, Ph.D.
Determination of the Atomic Resolution and 3-D Structure of the Geosmin C-Terminal Domain
Abstract
Geosmin synthase, isolated from Streptomyces coelicolor, is a Class I terpenoid cyclase that is able to catalyze a unique, metal-dependent terpenoid cyclization and fragmentation reaction. Structural determination of the C-terminal domain of the cyclase was attempted through large scale protein growth, protein isolation, and purification via Fast Protein Liquid Chromatography.
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Adria Pirozzi
Biology
Documenting Effects of Local Adatation on Milkweed Growth
adria pirozzi
Mentor: Abby Kula, Ph.D.
Documenting Effects of Local Adatation on Milkweed Growth
Abstract
To analyze local adaptation in Asclepias syriaca, or common milkweed, various measurements were taken at a field site in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This plant is a major food source for monarch butterflies, which currently has a declining population. A better understanding of milkweed will enable conservation efforts to be more fruitful.
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Veronica Plate
Theology
Our Lady of Guadalupe: Bridge Between the Americas
veronica plate
Mentor: Luis Vera, Ph.D.
Our Lady of Guadalupe: Bridge Between the Americas
Abstract
Despite her being named Our Lady of the Americas, devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe seems to be missing in the Anglo-Catholic Church in the U.S. This project explores why this may be through analyzing Latinos’ history in the U.S. and proposing a solution to bridge the cultural divide.
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Elena Rittie
Business with Passion for Fine Arts
Directing During a Pandemic: An Abridged Version of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
elena rittie
Mentor: Kurt Blaugher, Ph.D.
Directing During a Pandemic: An Abridged Version of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
Abstract
Shakespeare’s edited version of The Merchant of Venice explores onstage the themes of mercy, forgiveness, deception, and love. No matter how complex a Shakespeare tale may be, it has been no match for the backstage journey of directing this play during a pandemic, but "The show must go on!"
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Ian Schirra
Computer Science
Solving Love-Letter Card Game with AI
ian schirra
Mentor: Scott Weiss
Solving Love-Letter Card Game with AI
Abstract
Imperfect information games are notably difficult to solve. This project seeks to determine an unbeatable strategy in a variation of the card game Love Letter by applying the CFR+ algorithm.
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Sean Seay
History and English
How the Internet Facilitated the Rise of the Alt-Right and Contemporary Neo-Nazism
sean seay
Mentor: Jack Dudley, Ph.D., and Elizabeth Strauss, Ph.D.
How the Internet Facilitated the Rise of the Alt-Right and Contemporary Neo-Nazism
Abstract
Although Nazism has been with our world for quite some time now, its modern incarnation in the Alt-Right is not only unique but uniquely dangerous. This project exposes present-day practices and provides a comprehensive history of the Alt-Right movement.
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Jody Shuey
Business
Fundamentals of Healthcare Marketing During COVID-19
jody shuey
Mentor: Christina Yoder, Ph.D.
Fundamentals of Healthcare Marketing During COVID-19
Abstract
This research project analyzes the use of digital marketing along with other marketing tactics the healthcare industry utilizes to convey information regarding the Coronavirus pandemic to the public. Specifically, this project analyzes Highmark Health and WellSpan Health in the Pennsylvania area.
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Nicholas Starvaggi
Chemistry and Biochemistry
Novel Synthesis & Characterization of Red-Shifted Triphenylpyrylium Derivatives
nicholas starvaggi
Mentor: Isaac Mills, Ph.D.
Novel Synthesis & Characterization of Red-Shifted Triphenylpyrylium Derivatives
Abstract
Pyrylium salts encompass a unique category of cationic molecules with useful absorbance, fluoresence, and photo-induced electron transfer properties. My honors thesis investigates the synthesis of fluorinated and/or methoxylated pyrylium complexes with the end objective of developing more reliable synthetic routes to expanding current pyrylium libraries.
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Sam Stephan
Economics and Business
Student-Athletes: A Winning Strategy?
sam stephan
Mentor: John Larrivee, Ph.D.
Student-Athletes: A Winning Strategy?
Abstract
This paper explores the connection between the athlete and the student, and if more importance seems to be put on one end of the spectrum compared to the other. This is done through econometric analysis that determines if there is an effect on GPA due to participating in athletics.
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Michael Stumpo
Cybersecurity
Securing Computer Networks in Modern Vehicles
michael stumpo
Mentor: David King
Securing Computer Networks in Modern Vehicles
Abstract
Modern vehicles like cars, trains, or airplanes have been engineered to be more computerized. Hackers have taken advantage of numerous flaws found in these systems. This project explores how these systems are designed, their vulnerabilities, and potential solutions to fix them.
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Cecilia Wigginton
Accounting and Forensic Accounting
The Role of a Forensic Accountant in Law Enforcement
cecilia wigginton
Mentor: Larry Hoffman
The Role of a Forensic Accountant in Law Enforcement
Abstract
The practice of forensic accounting within the context of law enforcement considers all aspects of a crime, including the examination of the financial crime itself as well as the inspection of all relevant documents, the application of analytical procedures on digital evidence, and any observations regarding the engagement of offenders.
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Kristina Winkeler
Environmental Science
In the Midst of a Plastic Crisis: How Did We Get Here and How Can We Move On?
kristina winkeler
Mentor: Abigail Kula, Ph.D.
In the Midst of a Plastic Crisis: How Did We Get Here and How Can We Move On?
Abstract
We all know plastic is having detrimental effects on the environment, yet we continue to use it. Why? And can anything be done? My project examines the history of plastic, the environmental impacts of plastic, recycling practices in the US, and possible solutions for our plastic crisis.
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Emily Wuerz
Psychology
Cognitive Emotions and Religion in Mount Students
emily wuerz
Mentor: Jonathan Slezak, Ph.D.
Cognitive Emotions and Religion in Mount Students
Abstract
Emerging adulthood is a time of multi-faceted change, and religion has an impact especially during this time. Response values from the online Add health Codebook Explorer (ACE) were analyzed in a Pearson’s r statistical test and compared with Mount St. Mary's undergraduate’s data.
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