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ETSU student participates in Ivy Symposium

By David Floyd
On March 30, 2014

Some of the brightest students in the nation gathered March 13 on the campuses of Harvard and MIT to participate in the Ivy Plus Symposium.
Jami Bennett, a senior in the ETSU department of anthropology, was invited to attend and placed third in the humanities division.
"When I first started college, there wasn't anything I was really passionate about. But when I found anthropology, I really started getting into the research," Bennett said. "Even then Harvard just seemed so unfathomable."
The Ivy Plus Symposium is an annual event that provides students with an opportunity to present their theses to experts in their fields.
One of its main missions is to promote diversity in multiple academic disciplines.
"The whole point of the Ivy Plus Symposium is to bring underrepresented and diverse students into this Ivy community. Everyone was from a four-year university, but they were diverse in terms of socioeconomic class, ethnicity and origin," said Bennett. "Some students were from Harvard and Brown, others were from places I'd never heard of."
Bennett presented research about the contemporary uses of dowsing in the Appalachian region.
Traditionally, dowsing has been recognized as the use of a fork stick to locate water; however, specifically in Appalachia, the practice seems to have a lot of variation.  
"What most people don't realize is that this tradition of divination has kind of moved into the paranormal. Dowsers are using it to tell the future, to find missing people and archeological sites or to read someone's character," Bennett said.
Bennett compiled data from several surveys, focus groups and personal interviews she conducted in the region. She found that people dowse in an incalculable number of ways. She also discovered a unifying factor.
"When I asked people 'why do you dowse', they all answered the question in a very similar way. They all used a form of the word 'connect' or 'connection'. Ultimately, it doesn't matter where their energy is directed, it's all about making a connection," Bennett said.
The opportunity Bennett had to attend the Ivy Plus Symposium is a representation of the good ETSU is capable of accomplishing for its students.
"There's a negative stereotype attached to Southern Appalachia, but there is amazing scholarship going on in this area," Bennett said. "Students need to realize that they don't have to go to an Ivy League school for programs like Ivy Plus Symposium to really make their futures more tangible."
Bennett hopes to continue her fieldwork abroad, applying her newfound research skills in Korea and rural Asia.

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