Alumni Newsletter, May 2017

Feature Story  ♦  Faculty Profile  ♦  Student Profile

EKU Mock Trial Team Participates in National Tourney

Mock Trial TeamBy Thomas Parker

Eastern Kentucky University’s mock trial team concluded one of its most successful seasons ever with a 15th-place finish at the American Mock Trial Association’s National Championship Tournament in Los Angeles, California.

EKU dropped three ballots in its first-round matchup against the University of Cincinnati but rallied on the second day, taking two of three against the University of Arizona and sweeping all three ballots from the University of Rochester. EKU battled valiantly in the fourth round but dropped two ballots and tied one against the sixth-place team, Ohio State University. EKU finished with a 5-6-1 record in the tournament, falling a single point shy of an honorable mention trophy.

Allie Maples and Hayley AbbottAllie Maples, a senior political science major from Mount Sterling, Kentucky, capped her impressive mock trial career at EKU with her first All-American Attorney Award, while Hayley Abbott, a junior political science major from Corbin, Kentucky concluded her first season of mock trial with an All-American Witness Award. Laura Jackson, a junior political science major from Artemus, Kentucky, and Tyler Swafford, a senior globalization and international affairs major from Franklin, Tennessee, each missed an All-American Award by a single rank out of 30.

Other members of EKU’s National Championship Tournament team included Melissa Mahan, a senior anthropology major from Bloomington, Illinois; Brianna Palmer, a freshman criminal justice major from Richmond, Kentucky; Angel Spurlock, a senior chemistry teaching major from Rockcastle, Kentucky; Alexa Turner, a junior paralegal and history major from Winchester, Kentucky; and Ryan Wiggins, a sophomore political science and psychology major from Georgetown, Kentucky. Maples, Swafford, Jackson, Spurlock, and Turner are all members of the EKU Honors Program.

The EKU Mock Trial program is sponsored by the EKU College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, and attended the AMTA National Championship Tournament with additional financial support from the President’s and Provost’s Offices as well as the the Office of Engagement, Regional Stewardship, and Government Relations. Faculty and staff assisting with the program include Tom Parker, Lynnette Noblitt, Brandon Williams, Kristeena Johnson, and Dean Sara Zeigler.

Assistant Professor Dr. Kerem Kalkan

By Randall Swain, Ph.D.

Dr. Anne Cizmar, Madison Swinney, and Dr. Kerem KalkanSince the fall of 2014, Dr. Kerem Kalkan has been a faculty member in the Department of Government & Economics in the College of College of Letters, Arts, & Social Sciences (CLASS). Born and raised in Istanbul, a city of 12 million people in the country of Turkey, Dr. Kalkan credits a former professor with instilling in him a desire to teach and mentor young people.

“My professor saw something in me, someone who had a genuine interest in this field, and she encouraged me to pursue doctoral studies and to become a university professor,” observed Dr. Kalkan.

This was the beginning of an academic and professional journey that took him from the university where he studied for his undergraduate degree in Ankara, to the University of Maryland, where he obtained a Ph.D. in Political Science, to Eastern Kentucky University. Dr. Kalkan teaches courses on both the graduate and undergraduate level for the department. At the undergraduate level, he teaches courses on comparative politics, international relations, political psychology, and religion and politics and at the graduate level, Dr. Kalkan teaches a course on organization theory.

When pressed what he liked most about teaching, Dr. Kalkan revealed a genuine interest in people. “Teaching provides me an opportunity to stay in contact with the younger generation. They keep me up to date with technological innovations, and current cultural trends…this is one of the few professions that allows for this in a meaningful way.”

In his dealings with students, Dr. Kalkan strives to instill values of personal accountability, holding students accountable for assignments and being proactive about their education. He also stresses the importance of instilling in students the value of being empirically literate, which refers to understanding how to assess and apply quantitative analysis to their professions. As Dr. Kalkan states, “given the rise of quantitative methods in academic and professional setting, I want my students to be able to read and understand basic empirical methods.”

Dr. Kalkan’s enthusiasm for research and his passion for political science and the joy he derives from sharing the findings of his work has an infectious effect on his students, which makes it easier for them to relate to Dr. Kalkan and to assimilate the theoretical and practical lessons he works so diligently to transmit to students. The infectious quality of Dr. Kalkan’s enthusiasm has also manifested itself by several students who have sought out Dr. Kalkan’s expertise and guidance as a mentor on student research projects.

Dr. Kalkan supervised a research project of one of his students that examined the political behavior implications of slavery, a collaborative effort that culminated in the student’s work receiving special recognition during Eastern Kentucky University’s Scholarship Week last spring.

Dr. Kalkan’s research interests are on political psychology, electoral behavior, religion and politics, and public opinion, particularly on the subject of attitudes towards Muslims living in the United States and Europe. Dr. Kalkan has published articles in some of the top journals in the field of political science, such as the Journal of Politics and the American Journal of Political Science.

The importance and relevance of Dr. Kalkan’s work is such that the Washington Post ran a story about on one of his findings related to the 2016 presidential election, which is that the support for Donald Trump, was motivated mostly by ethnocentrism on the part of Trump’s supporters. According to Dr. Kalkan, students seem to appreciate Dr. Kalkan sharing interesting aspects of his research findings on various topics.

Dr. Kalkan is currently working on a book length project about attitudes toward Muslims and the factors that explain prejudice towards Muslims and the implications this has for American public opinion.

In his spare time, Dr. Kalkan enjoys listening to classical music, reading fiction, and picking apples from orchards.

Music Major has a Fascinating Story

By Dr. Nathan Jasinski

Ligia TossatoLigia Tossato’s journey to EKU is a unique one. Currently a sophomore in piano performance in EKU’s School of Music, one would scarcely guess at first glance that only a few years ago, she was 5000 miles away and had never heard of EKU, let alone imagined herself studying piano in the United States.

Born into a family of engineers in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ligia played piano in her youth. Perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, she applied and was accepted as an engineering student at a university in her hometown. Realizing that her passion lay elsewhere, she turned down the opportunity and later enrolled as a music student at a public university. After only a few weeks into her first semester, the music faculty went on strike for the entire school year, resuming only one week before final exams. She said that her professor made her perform a semester’s worth of music having only had one lesson the week before the exam! She was growing increasingly frustrated with her current situation.

Ligia had a friend studying piano at EKU with School of Music faculty member and fellow Brazilian Dr. Bernardo Scarambone. After contacting him, he set events in motion that would eventually bring her to Kentucky to complete her undergraduate studies in piano performance. Ligia credits Dr. Scarambone with making the difficult process as smooth as possible. She also lauds the International Student Office for being accommodating, answering her questions quickly, and making her feel welcome at Eastern.

As EKU seeks to engage well-prepared students from diverse backgrounds, having a student like Ligia enrolled certainly shows the value of this mission. When asked about her drive for success, she said: “I feel responsible to succeed because of the opportunity I have been given to come to EKU to study piano. My parents are sacrificing for me to be here too, so I must work hard.” Her hard work is already paying off. She is the recipient of a talent-based music scholarship based on an audition. She also receives a scholarship from the International Office based on her high school academics and TOEFL exam score. Ligia has already garnered honors at the Kentucky Music Teachers Association statewide piano competition, receiving an Honorable Mention (2nd Prize) at the statewide event in Louisville in 2016.

Ligia will graduate with a Bachelors of Music degree in piano performance in 2019. She loves her professors and says she continues to learn so much at EKU. After graduation, she will continue her studies in piano in a graduate program in the USA or Canada.