Thesis defense tops off senior year for Ashbrook program graduates

Niko Scarlatos

The Ashbrook Program is one of the most prestigious academic undergraduate scholarship programs not only at Ashland University but in the state of Ohio, and prides itself on constitutional self-government. 

The program is named after John M. Ashbrook, who served in office as a member of the United House of Representatives from 1961-1982. Any Ashbrook student that is a member of the program at Ashland is responsible for completing the biggest assignment of their college careers, defending their thesis. 

The process that students must follow when completing their thesis defense is one that lasts for at least a year. It takes a lot of time to develop everything and is something that requires a head start on in order to make it as convincing and promising as possible. 

“Dr. Paddags, the director of the thesis program, goes through with each student what each should expect about three semesters before the defense itself,” said Nick Novotny, a senior member of the Ashbrook Program. “He helps you decide the question while also figuring out how you are going to go about researching it with books, speeches, or writings.” 

Once senior year arrives for the Ashbrooks that are working on their thesis, the students begin to meet with their advisors more often and narrow down the things they are going to write about, allowing them to begin the stage where they can start to write. 

During this time, students are also enrolled in Thesis Seminar, which does give class credit due to the amount of time each student puts in both inside and outside the classroom.

Students may get nervous when it comes to getting up and speaking in front of large numbers of people, especially a crowd of this magnitude with multiple professors and advisors in attendance. Most, if not all, thesis defenses are free and open to the public, resulting in attendance of friends and family for those defending. Some Ashbrook Program members have been in attendance for previous thesis defenses over the years. 

“I would say it helps a lot seeing it be done before me,” said Mike Serrato, Ashbrook Program senior. “They try to prepare you with what to expect but actually seeing it helps you develop ideas on how to approach it which certainly goes a long way.” 

These defenses are usually held on the 8th floor of the Library on campus at Ashland University. 

While it may sound daunting to those who have not yet completed the process, the Ashbrook Program professors and advisors do their best to make sure each and every student is ready to go when their big day arrives.