Post-symposium Interview with Curtis Cole and Cidney Mayes

After the Wilson Scholar presentations finished, I was fortunate enough to sit down with two of the presenters, Cidney Mayes (Senior) and Curtis Cole (Freshman), to talk about their presentations. 

Cidney Mayes: Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey Online: Creating a Digital and Pedagogical Resource for Secondary Teachers and   Students (Sponsor: Misty Krueger) Website:

Curtis Cole: Postmodern Japanese Existentialism (Sponsor: Erin Kappeler)


Me: What inspired you to create your projects?

Cidney: It was while taking a class with Misty on Jane Austen that I began thinking about it. Misty came up to me, she knew I was interested in Austen, and said that she’d help me. I wanted to focus on social context and the social sphere and translate that for the 21st century.

Curtis: I had written a paper on Japanese existentialism in ENG 181; and, after I finished, I still wanted to know more! I like big landscapes. A lot of people only look at one tree, but I don’t. I look at the tree, clouds, the forest beyond, and everything else.

Me: What was the process like? 

Cidney: Misty was like, “We’re gonna get you this scholarship!” We had to start in June, almost a year ago. I spent all summer working on it. I was going into student teaching, so I knew that I would be busy. Misty was extremely helpful. We met about once a month to check in, and continually talked through email.

Curtis: The process for me started in November, but I didn’t truly focus on it until January, and then it was like a hectic time-consuming work session.  

Me: What do you think the long term impact of your presentations will be?

Cidney: I think that the research I’m doing is ahead of the curve. My mentor is an Austen scholar, and we both really wanted to create something that would be innovative to the community. Putting Austen on the level of high schoolers is sometimes frowned upon by the Austen community. I want to bridge the gap between high schoolers and Austen through social media. By promoting the accessibility of knowledge, I was able to do that. 

Curtis: My impact is going to be more of an impression of myself. I’m hoping my presentation will prove that I’m a hard-working student. Throughout this process I was able to work with Erin, but I really wanted to work through most of it by myself—to prove that I could. 

Me: So, what’s next for you two? 

Cidney: I’m looking into getting my master’s in library services. The programming skills I gained while working on this will be great for that! Then, in a few years, I am going to buckle down and become an English teacher.  

Curtis: Well, I just started so I have a ways to go. But, I know I’m going to get my graduate degrees. Although my project doesn’t correlate directly to my goals, it gave me experience working on a long term research project. 

Me: Any final thoughts on the process? Or working with your mentor or other professors here at UMF?

Cidney: At UMF we really have a unique relationship with our professors. They’re always 100% available, no matter what questions you have. Overall, I think that both of our presentations went well. 

Curtis: I’m still pretty new here, but my experience has been great. The professors here are amazing and they always make time for you.  

End interview

Thank you both for your insight! Make sure you check out Cidney’s website above, especially if you’re an educator or future educator!

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