3MT Winner Spotlight | Sophie Staires

Sophie Staires

Hood’s 5th annual Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, an internationally recognized event in which graduate students use one slide and three minutes to present their chosen research topic, was held virtually for the first time this spring due to COVID-19.

Sophie Staires, a May 2020 graduate of Hood’s humanities program, won 1st place for her talk, "Justice in The Round House: Literature as a Tool for Social Justice." Sophie has been invited to continue on to compete in the 2020 Northeastern Association of Graduate School (NAGS)’s 3MT competition!

We spoke with Sophie to get some insight on why she chose to compete in Hood’s 3MT and how she feels about the opportunity to take her talk to the next level.

Sophie Staires, Humanities M.A.'20

Graduation Year

2020

Program

  • Humanities (M.A.)

Department

  • Art & Archaeology
  • History

"A major goal of my thesis was really to show how valuable the humanities are!  I hoped to demonstrate at least one channel in which art and literature can change the world and improve our communities and how we relate to one another."

What was your motivation for competing in Hood’s 5th annual 3MT and choosing your specific topic?

I attended Hood to earn my Master's in the Humanities from August, 2017 until May of 2020 when I defended my thesis and graduated. I don't remember if anyone specifically suggested that I compete in 3MT, but I thought it sounded like fun.

I had presented a few times at the Humanities Conference and felt like I might be good at that sort of talk. I also think the ability to talk succinctly and articulately about your research to people outside your field is a really important skill.

As I neared the end of the writing process, I felt I was still having trouble being concise about my topic because it was so varied and complicated.

My topic, literature addressing sexual violence toward Native women, is the result of several years of study from different angles.

My thesis allowed me to pull together things that had caught my attention in social justice classes, literature classes, history classes, etc. The 3MT competition helped me further narrow down specifically what I wanted my thesis to say. 

What was it like to compete virtually?

Competing virtually was absolutely nerve wracking, but in a way, it was a relief to be able to compete from my own space, where I felt comfortable.

It was nice to not physically see all the eyes on me, and I think that the virtual nature probably made it easier for a lot of people to attend who might not have otherwise.

When they announced the winner, my husband started jumping up and down and I got calls and emails from a couple of faculty members.

It was so exciting, but I also wished we could have been physically together to really share that moment. 

What impact did winning the First Place award at Hood’s 5th Annual 3MT have on you?

Winning was such an honor because, as a Humanities major, people were always asking what I planned to do with that degree.

I was nervous to compete against students from other departments because I’d experienced a lot of ambiguity around the Humanities degree; Some people just don’t understand the value of it as compared to a business, engineering, or computer science degree.

Because of this, a major goal of my thesis was really to show how valuable the humanities are!  I hoped to demonstrate at least one channel in which art and literature can change the world and improve our communities and how we relate to one another.

How did the invitation to compete in NAGS' regional 3MT make you feel?

Of course, I'm super excited to compete at the regional event, but I have no idea what to expect! However, I welcome the opportunity to share my research with anyone who will listen.  You spend so much time with a thesis, carefully researching, thinking and writing, editing and re-writing... and then you graduate and suddenly it's all over.

It feels really nice to have the opportunity to simply talk about and share my work again.

What advice would you give to future 3MT competitors?

You have worked so hard on your topic and you know it better than anyone. This is your chance to celebrate all that work and to show people what you're capable of!

My other piece of advice is to practice, and specifically practice TALKING about it, not just writing about it. Call up your brother or your grandma and tell them what your thesis is about and let them give you feedback.  With their external point of views, they can help pinpoint what is confusing and what is effective. You can do this!

Inspired by Sophie's story and ready to #GOFURTHER in your education and career? Learn about Hood graduate programs, including the M.A. in Humanities, by clicking here.