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Plan II Honors

Thesis Awards 2007/2008

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  • Kwabena A. Ackie, The Long Story of Where I am From

  • Hayley J. Austin,  Inside the Colonias

  • Elizabeth C. Block, “Like Children Swinging at a Piñata:” Local and State Efforts to Regulate Immigration in the Wake of Federal Inaction

  • Tara E. Buentello,  Homeownership, Housing Quality, and Satisfaction Among Mexican Immigrants in Austin, Texas

  • Stephen S. Gilstrap, A Recipe for Economic Success in the European Union: An Analysis of EU-10 Economic Growth from 1998 to 2006

  • Ryan S. Heaton, The 1940 Election and the Anti-Roosevelt Amendment

  • Amy E. Koehler, The Experimental Wife:  Re-reading the Wife of Bath through the Lens of Arabic Thought

  • Julie E. Kucera, The Airborne Transmission of Infectious Diseases in Indoor Environments

  • David Liang, Drosophilia and Parkinson’s Disease: The Effects of Various Stressors on Alpha-Synuclein Transgenic Flies

  • Andrew W. Limmer, Post-Secondary Education for Undocumented Students in the United States

  • Patrick B. McMillan, WMD Terrorism and Deterrence: Lessons Past and Present

  • Jennifer L. Nation, The Concept of Tawhid in Radical Islamist Thought in the Twentieth and Twenty-first Centuries

  • Keaton F. Shuttlesworth, Sunburn and Autumn: A Collection of Poetry

  • Jason M. Wu, Trends in Modern Violin Performance


The annual Albert Prize recognizes an outstanding Plan II senior thesis related to the field of medical science.
  • Leah Yieh, Moral Considerations and Limitations of Neonatal Care at the Cusp of Viability:  A Five-Point Perspective


Plan II recipient of $5,000 Awards:

Tara E. Buentello
B.A., December 2007, Plan II Honors

Homeownership, Housing Quality, and Satisfaction Among Mexican Immigrants in Austin, Texas

Tara’s thesis, “Homeownership, Housing Quality, and Satisfaction among Mexican Immigrant Homeowners in Austin, Texas,” represents an insightful look at the reasons for why rates of home ownership among Mexican immigrants are among the lowest in the country. This topic is critically important. Home ownership is a fundamental component of wealth in American society and is strongly linked to the persistence of social inequality. Tara’s research integrates two sources of data to evaluate this issue. First, she conducted an in-depth statistical analysis of Austin’s Mexican immigrant population using the 2000 U.S. Census data. Second, she conducted qualitative interviews of Mexican immigrant homeowners in Austin to understand the home-owning process through immigrants’ eyes. Her quantitative analysis provided clear evidence of the socioeconomic reasons behind lower home ownership rates and poorer housing quality among Mexican immigrants in Austin. Her ethnographic interviews, conducted mostly in Spanish, dug deeply into the thinking that went into home buying among Austin’s Mexican immigrant population.

Plan II recipients of $2,000 Awards:

Mark Aguhar
Junior, Plan II and Civil Engineering

Mark creates lyrical paintings that both echo and transcend his personal experience with disfiguring skin disorders. Like the disorders, his paintings use shiny, gemlike surfaces, bright colors and bold, confrontational composition, inviting the public gaze and turning disfigurement into a compelling statement of beauty and defiance in the face of adversity. This body of work portends a promising career as a painter, demonstrating a range of technique that reflects the artist’s openness to experience and experimentation. Through the investigation of the physicality of the medium, Mark finds beauty and even adds a whimsical quality to some of the work as he explores the nature of his affliction. In the process, his work reflects the resiliency of the human spirit.

Amelia Fischer
Senior, Plan II and Latin American Studies

Sinking Jimmy’s Ship: The Mariel Boatlift and the re-rupture of US-Cuban Relations

Amelia’s analysis of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift, which she interprets as the result of an unnecessary failure of the Carter administration in its normalization negotiations with Cuba, is a valuable contribution to the history of U.S. foreign relations and policy regarding Cuba. Her thesis is based on impressive archival research in the Carter Presidential Library: letters, papers, findings, contemporary media reports, public statements, private interviews, and much more. She subtly develops her argument as she writes a compelling narrative of U.S.-Cuba relations in the post World War II era, focusing particularly on the late 1970s and early 1980s. Amelia’s work—her research, her writing, the way she conceptualizes research questions—reveals her to be a truly extraordinary undergraduate.

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