by Giovanni Amado-Sanchez, 2017 Public Relations Intern
Ethics and engagement are essential values for the ideal Barton leader. Students at Barton are encouraged to pursue leadership and to actively seek ways to achieve greater understanding, insight, and life perspective. Such characteristics are passionately embraced by Barton College senior Marcus Strath.
Strath enrolled at Barton in fall 2014, transferring from Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Mass. He held a satisfying management position prior to attending college, but then he decided to solidify his pre-existing skills and gain new ones by studying business administration at Bunker Hill Community College, before transferring and beginning his Barton Experience. During his junior year, he says, “I reassessed my priorities and what I desired in an occupation. I pursued a minor in journalism and attempted to take as many classes as I could that related to research. The result has been a wide range of interests, primarily within economics and politics, and a general pursuit of knowledge.”
In his research, Strath analyzed the societal and economic effects that states across the country have experienced after legalizing recreational marijuana use. Further, he analyzed whether punishment is the correct action for tackling drug use. He asked, “Is the best solution for a person with a potential substance abuse problem a punishment, like fines or depravation of freedom, combined with the negative aspects derived from having a criminal record, or are there other avenues that are yet to be explored and that may allow us to progress further as a society?” He posed this question following his research that disclosed such facts as 30% of 18-25-year-olds have used marijuana, despite its illegality. “Legalization could turn out to be a bad idea, but we have to acknowledge that the current system has done little to curb drug use and has produced a range of other issues,” he added. Through engagement in research, Strath has sought deeper insight and understanding, a practice that Barton welcomes.
Strath was part of the four-student team that won the 2016 NCICU Ethics Bowl. Participating in the Ethics Bowl was an incredibly intellectual and humbling experience,” he shared. “I put forth my ideas, and we worked together to be as prepared as possible. Evidently, we had prepared well, and it was a pleasant surprise to make it all the way. It was great to see so many smart and ambitious young people in the same place. It would be great if these activities gain popularity, and I think Barton has done an excellent job raising the profile of academic competitions. I do think similar competitions will emerge in the upcoming years as our society continues to move away from routine work toward a knowledge and service-based economy.”
During his junior year, Strath, along with senior McKennon Griffin and alumnus Kevin Strassburger, produced an hour-long documentary about campaign finance in the U.S., interviewing professors from Duke University, UNC Chapel Hill, and East Carolina University during the process. They traveled to Washington D.C., to interview advocacy groups and individuals who are working to change the system. “It was very interesting to learn about how the U.S. has the most expensive elections in the world,” he said. “Researching campaign finance history has helped me understand more than just the topic at hand. Learning about how political discourse and judicial doctrines have changed over time gives you a glimpse of why our society looks the way it does. I didn’t know anything about video production, but I had to learn in the process of making this documentary. As a result, I have a new set of skills to leverage as a job applicant.”
From participating in research projects and the Ethics Bowl, Strath has a better grasp of what it means to be innovative. That understanding has enriched his Barton Experience by redefining his research. He shared, “Conducting research allows one to delve wholeheartedly into a subject and understand intricate aspects you normally do not consider. It is the separation of your feelings about a subject from what the evidence is showing.”
“Research has increased my appreciation for causality,” he added. “Being aware of the impact your behavior has on yourself and your surroundings, as well as how it’s influenced by your culture and individual experiences, is important. I believe we can all benefit from assessing if the way we’re doing things, the way we live our lives, is having the best impact on ourselves and our surroundings.”
Strath thanks all his professors who have helped him progress. He specifically thanks professor and advisor Professor Lanier for helping him choose the right academic path. He thanks Coach Matt Atkins for motivating him to finish his degree. Finally, Strath thanks Dr. John Bethune, who has guided him in research projects and has encouraged him to consider new ideas, which are vital components in the field of journalism.
Strath has undoubtedly benefited from his Barton Experience. “The welcoming atmosphere of the Barton campus has been important to me,” he explained. “I think small class sizes have contributed to me being able to stay focused and engaged in the classroom. My professors allow and encourage you to meet with them, which is something I highly value. I have learned a lot about myself and my interests during my time at Barton.”
As Strath currently seeks employment beyond graduation, he realizes “how much overlap different majors and jobs have,” he noted. “The School of Business’ approach to a student’s program of study has allowed me to be carve out a path to graduation while still pursuing areas I am interested in. One of the most important things about your undergraduate degree is to determine what you find interesting and then to figure out a way to find a career related to that interest. Barton College allowed me to do just that.”