Milligan students present work at research symposium

Milligan College senior Mickey Brown, of Kingsport, Tenn., presented his photography at the 2012 Appalachian College Association-University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Research Symposium.

MILLIGAN COLLEGE, Tenn. (Sept. 26, 2012) — Four Milligan College students presented research at the 2012 Appalachian College Association-University of North Carolina at Asheville’s Research Symposium, Sept. 21-22.

The projects included an oral presentation by Nate Andrew, a photography exhibit by Mickey Brown, a poster presentation by Mandy Oaks, and a poster by Jessie Davis and Rachel Lee. The poster by Davis and Lee was presented by Kate Handzlik.

“At Milligan, we are making efforts to increase the awareness of and participation in undergraduate research in every academic area,” said Dr. Joy Drinnon, director of undergraduate research at Milligan. “This symposium was an excellent opportunity for faculty members in diverse disciplines to mentor students and prepare them to share their findings with their peers.”

The research was facilitated by a $7,500 grant through the partnership between UNCA and the ACA, Drinnon added.

Each of the four Milligan projects examined some aspect of Appalachia Service Project (ASP), a ministry that provides life-changing short-term Christian mission trip opportunities, bringing youth, adult and college volunteers into rural Central Appalachia to make homes warmer, safer and drier for families in need. The ASP ministry extends from southern West Virginia into southwest Virginia, eastern Kentucky, eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina.

Andrew is a junior psychology and business administration major. He spent the summer of 2012 analyzing data that others had collected from ASP volunteers and studying the effects of these types of short-term missions projects on adolescents.

Dr. John Jackson, assistant professor of Bible and humanities at Milligan, was his faculty mentor.

“We are hoping that research of this kind will help church leaders understand whether short-term mission trips have the spiritual impact on their young people that they expect,” Jackson said. “Nate’s study also raises important questions about the kind of preparation volunteers need if short-term missions trips are going to make a difference in the spiritual lives of adolescents.”

In addition to providing a resource for churches, Andrew’s research had a personal impact on him, as well.

“The whole experience showed me how satisfying it is to pursue a real-life question, seeking an answer that actually has implications for others,” said Andrew, a native of Pittsburgh, Penn. “It has prepared me for my calling — seeking to glorify God in all areas of my life, including academics — by furthering my education in research, which will help me to honor God by continuing to ‘renew my mind.’”

Brown, a senior photography major from Kingsport, Tenn., exhibited his photography during the performing and gallery arts session. His exhibition is titled “Stories of the Served: A Photographic Account of Those Helped by Appalachia Service Project.” He was mentored by Alice Anthony, associate professor of art at Milligan.

“I am very proud of Mickey,” said Anthony. “He cares about the people he is photographing, and it shows in his work.”

Brown traveled to Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky, where he visited with families whose lives are affected by poverty.

“I tried to photograph these families in an interesting way that also portrayed the dignity and respect they still very much deserve,” Brown said. “The region is filled with people who have completely lost control of circumstances and are struggling to find their way in our back yard. These are the situations I wanted to pursue, these are the families I wanted to know and these are the people who need to be heard.”

In addition, Drinnon and Bert Allen, professor emeritus of psychology, mentored several students whose research examines other aspects of ASP.

Oaks, a 2012 Milligan graduate, presented her poster, “Does ‘Warmer and Drier’ = ‘Happier and Healthier’? Effects of a Home Repair Ministry on Appalachian Residents.”

Milligan alumni Davis and Lee completed a project titled “A Comparative Study of Motivation for Volunteering Between Two Home Repair Ministry Organizations: Habitat for Humanity and the Appalachia Service Project.”  Handzlik, a junior at Milligan, presented the poster.


MILLIGAN COLLEGE is a Christian liberal arts college in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The college offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan College, visit or call 800-447-5922.

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