by Bonnie Butcher
The University of West Georgia's Amelia Bagwell has proven her hard work through her
many accomplishments, the most recent being an award for her poster presentation at
the National Collegiate Honors Council conference this past November in Chicago. Her research titled, “The ‘Me’ She Cannot
See: Objectification and the Existential Experience of Women” won the award in the
Her interest in this topic stemmed from her classes at UWG, during courses in phenomenology and existential psychology. She began considering the nature of being from a gender-specific perspective. Her professors helped guide her with teachings and writings, sparking her own journey of individual study into this very complex topic.
Amelia’s research explores the correlation between female sexual objectification and its implications in relation to the existential experience. The focus is on “The Male Gaze,” as defined by psychological theory, juxtaposed with “The Gaze of the Other,” as construed through the existential writings of Jean-Paul Sartre.
The research argues that there is a negative prospect for women to experience ontological growth as a result of adversarial relations between the psychologically identified “male gaze” and the philosophically ontological gaze of “the Other.”
This study presents social norms that make the existential quest for a deeper, more authentic relationship with the self especially difficult for women. Though this is due to a multiplicity of conditions, Amelia chose to focus on the concept of objectification.
Amelia’s profound research was deservedly recognized. She won this award over 300 other honors student presentations.
“From the moment I met Amelia Bagwell, I knew she would have great academic success,” said Stacey Rowland, UWG manager of undergraduate research. “At the NCHC conference I witnessed her passionate delivery of her research topic and was most impressed with the critical analysis and overall quality of her research. Even one of the judges conveyed that her research is doctoral level quality at the undergraduate level.”
Amelia is the president of UWG’s Honors Council, a 2015 Ingram Scholar, a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar, vice president of Phi Kappa Phi Honors Society, and last year won the award for NCHC’s National Honors Student of the Year. She is a tutor, volunteer speaker, and studied abroad this past summer in France.
Though it seems extensive, this list is only a fraction of Amelia’s accomplishments. Among her academic endeavors, there is one important thing that is to be noted about Amelia: her success goes beyond titles and awards.
She is what some consider a “non-traditional” student, being a mother of six and splitting her time between her Cartersville home and dorm living in Carrollton.
She is passionate about helping others, and she plans to continue her education in psychology through graduate studies.
If one other person suffers a little less because of something I learn and/or teach, that is better than any award I will ever receive,” Amelia said. “What I am most proud of can never be put on paper; the quiet interactions with struggling students when I tutor or the moments of hope and healing when I am honored with someone sharing their struggles with me.”
Amelia is a prime example of living out the phrase, “the sky is the limit.” She has masterfully balanced her personal, professional, and academic life in a way that shines beyond expectations. She encourages other UWG students to “take the opportunities provided by our school as well as beyond our campus.”
Stacey echoed Amelia’s advice to other students in regards to the benefits of research experience.
“Opportunities such as this can lead to new scholarly insights, open doors to graduate level programs, and provide pathways to help students meet their career goals,” Stacey said.
Amelia is currently working on finishing her degree in psychology with a minor in history and specialized interest in philosophy. She plans to earn her Ph.D. and continue adding a new voice to education through writing and teaching.