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Students Develop Creative Theses in Texas A&M Program

Published on 8/16/2022 9:09:09 AM
By Sydnie Harrell, Office of Undergraduate Studies at Texas A&M University

First introduced in the spring of 2019, the Aggie Creative Collective (ACC) was designed as a way to link scholarly research, creative arts and performance so undergraduate students could develop creative theses at Texas A&M University. The program is supported and funded by the University Writing Center, LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research, the Department of English, the Department of Visualization and the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

In the ACC, members develop a thesis by partaking in research and writing a scholarly essay, similar to the standard thesis process. What makes the ACC unique is the creative artifact—it’s a long-term project students create that ranges from short films to non-fiction writing, poetry collections and more.

“Instead of a series of essays, you’re going to get a novel, or you’re going to get somebody’s webcomic or panels,” ACC Coordinator Florence Davies said. “The core of it is that creative project. This is an opportunity not only for you to get the time to work on it and build it, but you get to learn and think through the processes that creative writers do.”

Students who have completed at least 30 credit hours can apply for the ACC in the spring each year. If accepted, students begin the brainstorming process for their thesis by participating in collective meetings throughout one of the 5-week summer terms.

“One thing I love about the Aggie Creative Collective is that it is open to any student,” Davies said. “It benefits any creative student who has a creative interest and wants to see through a project, no matter what major they are.”

English major Matthew Vieyra ’24 heard about the ACC when he saw a poster advertising the program. As someone who enjoyed writing in his free time, Vieyra applied to the program with hopes that he would improve his creative writing skills with a group of like-minded people.

“Finding out that there was a collective of people who are doing the same thing and getting the opportunity to hear other voices and collaborate with other people caught my attention,” Vieyra said. “I wanted to give it a try.”

Vieyra was accepted to the program and began planning his creative artifact, a psychological novel, and his thesis paper during the first summer term. Every Tuesday and Thursday, he and the other ACC writers attended meetings with their advisor, Jason Harris, who is an Instructional Associate Professor and Creative Writing Coordinator.

In meetings, “we would do some sort of activity and also have a guest speaker who would help us and give us advice on whatever we’re writing,” Vieyra said. “I was extremely excited to work with other writers and to get some advice on what I can do with my own project.”

Following the completion of the summer meetings, Vieyra began working on his proposal to apply for the Undergraduate Research Scholar’s program, something all ACC members are required to do. This program allows for members to take a thesis course so they can work on their projects throughout the school year. 

“Once it gets approved, you can actually start writing the thesis,” Vieyra said. “I’ll be working with Dr. Harris the entire year, and he’s going to be measuring our progress and giv[ing] us advice.”

Vieyra is looking forward to networking with other students in the program and is excited to continue his project throughout his junior year. He hopes that completing the thesis will strengthen his resume and benefit his law school applications and future career.

“Once I graduate, I’m hoping to apply to law school,” Vieyra said. “My hope was to join this to build a name for myself and start building my resume. I’m definitely looking forward to… finding a focus of what I want to talk about and learning how to express myself as a writer.”

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Media Contact: Anna Transue transuea@tamu.edu