The Forum The Official Newsletter of Belmont Abbey's Honors College


I hope this finds you and your families well. The 2020 Spring semester looked a little different as plans were up-ended and classes were delivered virtually. The Honors College faculty and students courageously rose to the challenge and creatively sought ways to strengthen the community during such unprecedented times.

In this issue of The Forum, we highlight the latest honors events and coffee gatherings, the senior class, an interview with the Abbey’s beloved Russian literature enthusiast, Dr. Svetlana Corwin, and some joyful alumni news. I would also like to introduce The Forum’s assistant editors, Laura DiMarzio (‘23) and Blake Traylor (‘22), who helped with creating this issue. I am excited to leave the newsletter in their capable hands. We hope you enjoy receiving updates on the program as it continues to grow and flourish.

-Lily Mullen, Class of '21, Honors College student worker and Newsletter Editor


Beyond the Classroom

A few moments of normality before March. From top left, clockwise: Dr. Basil hosting a breakfast with students, Abbot Placid and baby Benedict Placid Wysocki, and an impromptu hike at Crowders Mountain.

Cultural Events Students and Faculty were fortunate enough to attend Beethoven's Missa Solemnis at the Belk Theatre on March 6th. All other events were canceled due to Covid-19.

Some of the Junior class who attended the Beethoven Symphony on Mar. 6th

The Virtual Classroom

On Mar. 19th, it was announced that all Spring classes would continue virtually. The Honors College faculty and students faced this task with courage and a sense of humor as the remainder of the Spring semester was delivered online via Zoom. Here are a few photos of our favorite Zoom classes and gatherings.

Senior Thesis Titles and the Honors Class of 2020

The Relationship Between Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and Childhood Depression
  • Jacqueline Adams
  • B.S. Psychology
  • Hometown: Charlotte, NC
The Urgent Need for Hopeful Humans: An Analysis of and Reflection upon the Corruptions of Hope in"The Great Gatsby"
  • Elizabeth Chatelain
  • B.A. Elementary Education with minors in Psychology and English
  • Hometown: Cary, NC
A Most Pleasant Utopia: An Analysis and Reflection Upon the Right Relation of Agape Love and Free Will for Human Happiness
  • Ian Dornan
  • B.A. Catholic Education with minors in English and Theology
  • Hometown: Holy Springs, NC
The Nature of Confession in Walker Percy’s "Love in the Ruins."
  • John Paul Hamilton
  • B.A. English with a minor in Writing
  • Hometown: Clarkesville, GA
Levels of Conscientiousness as a Gambling Disorder Relapse Risk Factor
  • Katie Miller
  • B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Theology
  • Hometown: Huntersville, NC
Tool Use in Animals
  • Francis Nolan
  • B.S. Biology
  • Hometown: Montclair, VA
DNA Polymerase Gamma and Alpers-Huttenlocher Syndrome


Animal Intelligence: The General Intelligence Hypothesis
  • Riley Prince
  • B.S. Biology
  • Charleston, SC
Mulan and the Emperor: Popular Literature Influencing the Politics of Ming China and Beyond
  • Theresa Wilson
  • B.A. History with minors in Theology, English, Education, and Medieval Studies
  • Hometown: Simpsonville, SC
From left to right: Theresa Wilson, Katie Miller, Elizabeth Chatelain, Ian Dornan, Francis Nolan, and John Paul Hamilton. Not pictured: Jacqueline Adams and Riley Prince

| Student Spotlight |

Meet Gracie Hetzel, class of '22, who reflects on her experience in the Honors College

Illumination and Inspiration

An Interview with Dr. Svetlana Corwin, An Associate Professor of English

Dr. Svetlana Corwin earned her B.A./M.A. at Herzen State University, her M.A. at Appalachian State University, and her Ph.D. at Emory University. In addition to teaching English courses for the past twelve years at the Abbey, Dr. Svetlana Corwin has been teaching Poetic Wisdom II for the Honors College over this spring, which covers the “Giants of European Literature,” such as Cervantes, Goethe, and Dostoevsky. In the past, she has also taught the Greek Tragedy class for the Honors College.

Q. Why teach at the Abbey? A. I had three options for my first full time teaching job. Of the three, Belmont Abbey perfectly combined the good features of both of my other options. I would have the freedom to teach world literature from a Christian perspective and explore the spiritual illumination of the texts. I would also have more engaged students who would truly benefit from the classes they took or at least students who, if they were unengaged, might be more willing to be woken up to the moral significance of literature. To have thought through important texts on your own is always a joyous experience for student and teachers alike, and I wanted to be able to give that joy to my students.

Q. What is the most influential class you ever took? And taught? A. As part of my undergraduate degree at Herzen State University in St. Petersburg, I took a class called “Fundamentals of General Linguistics,” which is what first got me hooked on languages and laid the foundation for the rest of my college career. However, as a seventeen-year-old at the time, it was a particularly terrifying experience. Just one example of exactly how scary it was were our oral examinations, where we had to translate whole passages from Beowulf without prep. However, our teacher made one promise to the class. He said that we would acquire the language and advance in it, to the extent that we ought to be able to dream in foreign languages. And it really was true! I do dream in English.

The most influential class I ever taught was actually one of the first Honors classes that I got to teach. It was about Dostoevsky and it was truly a joy to have such friendly, joyful, and eager minds to discuss his works with. I remember Christine Basil was in that class! There was an excellent response to what I was teaching, and Dostoevsky is particularly interesting to teach with an eye to the translation from Russian into English.

Q. If you could live inside any book, what book would you choose? A. The Book of Life from the Apocalypse! Although on a more basic level, and certainly not forever, in the Purgatorio, Canto 18, where Dante describes the slothful running races. As an academic it is very easy to become slothful about many things and use studies as an excuse not to do things like yard work and household chores, so running races in Purgatory sounds very helpful to me. I particularly have trouble with the yard work, but the Honors students are so helpful—perhaps they would be willing to come and do it for me? *laughing*

Q. What is one piece of advice you would give to students? A. I always tried to trick myself into falling in love with nearly every class I took, and it is the best piece of advice I can give. I even managed to convince myself to fall in love with an organic chemistry and physics class and now I have a deep fascination with the beauty of that subject. I will admit that there was one time my own advice has failed me. I couldn’t fall in love with my modern dance class—I was not a complete klutz—but I was, unfortunately, unable to find the beauty in it and was not motivated to do well. But it is very important to be motivated to find the beauty and good in each subject if is a worthy subject to learn and does not contradict truth! Try to orient it in its greater culture and history, and no class will be a waste of time. Even if you don’t like certain ideas you can certainly appreciate learning about them even for the sake of argument. Everything you learn affects you in some way and becomes a permanent part of yourself, teaching you to know yourself and your soul.

Q. What is a skill you would like to learn in the future? A. Academically, I would love to learn Latin and Greek as they come in handy when studying literature. However, what might be very useful to me is to learn how to do some plumbing and around-the-house handiwork. *laughing* Things in the house are so expensive to get fixed—I really should learn how to DIY!

Welcome to our incoming Provost, Dr. Travis Feezell.

Dr. Feezell, Ed.D., served most recently as the President and CEO of Hastings College and returns to Belmont Abbey where he served years ago as the chair of Motorsports Management and played many other crucial roles at the college. To learn more, check out our recent press release.

From the Desk of the Director

Dear Friends,

I pray that you and your families are healthy in mind, body, and spirit in the midst of these trying times. While the students and the faculty of the Honors College have not been immune from the saddening effects of the pandemic, our sense of gratitude for the things we lost and our hope for their return have certainly been deepened.

Though the incredible goods of our program-physical presence with one another for engaging conversation about important questions, the shared life of friends, being on Belmont Abbey’s beautiful campus--were all diminished or eliminated at the end of this spring semester, we are reminded of the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Spe Salvi that, “the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey.” The fruits of the Honors College, as seen in this edition of The Forum, assure us that our goal of returning to one another is great enough to justify living and accepting our present difficulties. And, so long as Belmont Abbey College stands, we can be confident of achieving this goal. Students will be reunited with teachers. We will joyfully welcome our alumni back once again.

While the fullness of our common work must wait until the fall, we are still moving forward on a number of exciting projects. Schola, our summer great books program for high school students, has moved online this year. It will include seminars on readings related to the theme of Honor, Humility, and the Christian Life. Since opening the application mid-May we have received an astounding 50 applications from students in 16 states. What a blessing to be able to spend time with prospective students who love books and conversation!

We are also moving ahead with our alumni giving campaign to renovate the St. Leo’s 301 seminar room, where many of you took Honors classes with Dr. Thuot. Our goal is to share the beautiful additions to the room with you this year at homecoming on October 2-4. We will be sending a more detailed invitation to Honors homecoming events in late summer.

The Honors College has also been awarded a grant by the Lilly Fellows Program to host a conference on February 19-21 on the “The Drama of Atheist Humanism,” the topic of one of our new senior “Crises in the West,” courses. The conference, to which you will all be invited, will bring Dr. Ralph Wood from Baylor University and Dr. Patrick Gardner from Christopher Newport University to give keynote lectures about the response of great Christian authors to the problem of modern atheism. We will also invite faculty and students from around the country to participate in a series of seminars on readings related to this topic. Stay tuned for more details.

Finally, Dr. Christine Basil will be continuing to share our news with you on a more regular basis through the new Honors College Twitter and Instagram accounts. Make sure to follow us!

We hope to hear from you soon and look forward to seeing you at homecoming in the fall. I pray that God grants you and your families His protection and peace this summer and always.

In Christ,

Dr. Joseph Wysocki

Adrian Excellence Award

Special Congratulations to Dr. Joshua Hren who received the 2019-2020 Adrian Award for Teaching Excellence.

Many thanks to Fr. Paschal Morlino whose generosity and good will established the Fr. Paschal Anthony Morlino, O.S.B. Honors College Program Endowment in order to support the Honors College at Belmont Abbey. Fr. Paschal is an alumnus of Belmont Abbey and entered the Benedictine order here. He is currently the pastor of St. Benedict's Catholic Church in Baltimore, MD. From all of us at the Honors College, thank you for supporting the flourishing of our work here!

Honors Alumni News & Announcements

It is with great joy and excitement that we announce...

Daphne Bissette (Honors '12) graduated in 2018 with an MA in Classics from the University of Massachusetts and accepted a position teaching Latin and Greek at Milton Academy, a boarding school outside of Boston.

Engagement of Nicole Osmera (Honors '18) & Isaiah Cole (Honors' 18) July 2019

Marriage of Ian Dornan (Honors '19) & Elizabeth Chatelain (Honors '20), Jan. 18th Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, The Abbey Belmont NC

John Paul Hamilton (Honors '20) received the English Department Student of the Year Award

Kevin LoTruglio (Honors '15) & Caitlin (McClancy) LoTruglio (Honors '15) welcomed their 2nd daughter, Mary Isabelle Seraphina LoTruglio, into the world on May 20, 2020.

Theresa Wilson (Honors '20) received the honor of Outstanding Honors Scholar Award and the Student of the Year

Theresa Wilson receiving the 2019-2020 Student of the Year Award from Tom MacAlester, Dean of Student Life in May


In fine
Lily Mullen's chicken, Cordelia, concentrating during a Roman and Persian Thinkers class with Dr. Hren #honorsbloopers #honoraryhonors

*Special thanks to Samantha Day (Honors '21), Clare Ruedisueli (Honors '21), Patricia Kolakowski ('22), Laura DiMarzio (Honors '23), and Kevin Gillett (Honors '23), for contributing photos.