2024 USF Keynote Speaker Says Westminster’s Intersection of Disciplines Led to His Professional Success

Nearly every seat in the Coulter Science Center Lecture Hall was occupied during the 9 a.m. opening session of the 2024 Undergraduate Scholars Forum (USF).

A particular draw for the event was Thaddeus Stubbs, ’99 KA, who gave a moving speech about his father, USF co-founder David Stubbs MD, ’68 ΣΧ, who died on Feb. 13, 2024.

Stubbs reflected that the academic rigor at Westminster and the research showcased each year at the USF made his father extremely happy.

“Dad would be gratified to know that the endowment is still rewarding your excellence. He loved what the Undergraduate Scholars Forum was about,” Stubbs said earnestly. “If he was here and you forced him to speak, I think he would encourage you to find your purpose … to dream huge and not big … set unrealistic goals and work and work and work to make them happen. Westminster is a special place, and my family thanks you for letting us share him with you.”

Next, alumnus Ayush Manandhar, MPP, ’17 IND, gave an enthusiastic keynote presentation about his experience as a graduate student, as a former assistant to the ambassador at the Embassy of Nepal in Washington, DC, and as a public policy professional.

Now a data policy analyst at Acumen LLC/The Sphere Institute, Manandhar reflected on his feelings of inadequacy when he first started his Westminster education, as well as his similar apprehension when he first attended Georgetown University in Washington, DC, for his master’s degree in public policy, which he earned in 2020.

Manandhar admitted he feared he would not be able to keep up with graduates from Ivy League universities who enrolled in Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy. He explained that his science and liberal arts courses such as expository writing prepared him well for the next chapter of his education.

The intersection of the disciplines, Manandhar stated firmly, “is where the magic happens.” He added, “At Westminster, you are perfectly situated to learn how to combine the sciences with the liberal arts.”

Manandhar then encouraged students to get involved in events and make use of Westminster’s faculty members, who he explained provide more attention than at most other institutions of higher education.

He then reassured the mostly student audience to trust the work they are engaging in at the College. Manandhar summarized, “Be patient and know that you can contribute both within and beyond the Columns.”

Following the keynote address, senior Lauren Halamicek, ’24 ΚΑΘ, presented findings from her impressive research study, “Self-Efficacy and Presentation Anxiety.” The event concluded with an awards presentation by various faculty and staff members to an extensive list of students.


2024 Undergraduate Scholars Forum Awards

New Honors Program Inductees

Cameron Dorth
Keely Garman
Veridian Lowe
Madison Scott
Isaac Thomas
Cooper Thompson
Jake Troutt

Cameron and Jessie Day Prize in Biology
Michaela Beedy

Harmon L. Remmel III Prize for Outstanding Thesis in History
Kirsten Rushing

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
Cesar Mares

Cranshaw Scholarship
Careon Dorth

Vernon W. and Marion K. Piper Scholarship
Timothy Skonecki
Haley Miller

Robert G. and Ruth H. Hoerber Scholarship for Classics, Philosophy and Religious Studies
Eden Stark

Dr. Therese A. Miller and Lawrence E. Miller Endowed Health and Exercise Science Award Taylor Miller

The Margaret McDonald Jaeger Psychology Award
Rozallyn Schneider (Senior)
Michael Giles and John Stannard (Juniors)

Division of Social Sciences: Best Paper
“Ukraine and Finland, Underdogs and Their Successes Against Foreign Invasion”
Jake Troutt

Natural Sciences and Mathematics Division, the best poster presentation entitled, “Quantifying Prevotella Bacteria in the Oral Cavity of College Students​”
Tatum Covey and Laney Fonke

Division of Humanities: Best Overall Paper

“The Human Aim to Reach the Divine as Demonstrated by the Ancient Greeks and the Medieval Christians ”
Eden Stark

View the entire 2024 USF opening session by accessing Westminster’s YouTube page.

The USF is generously funded by an endowment established by the Stubbs family, which includes a number of Westminster graduates: David Stubbs, MD, ’68 ΣΧ; Thad Stubbs, ’99 KA; Courtney (Stubbs) Swan, ’01 ΚΑΘ; and Zach Stubbs, ’07 KA; Rebecca Stubbs, ’08 IND; as well as Beth (Howard) MacLellan, ’00 ΚΚΓ. In memory of Dr. Stubbs, contributions can be made to the endowment by clicking here and selecting “Stubbs Family Undergraduate Scholars Forum Endowment” under “Designation.”

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.