Students Invited to Present Research Papers in Rome

Article excerpt

Byline: Bruce Pecho

Fathom the feeling of accomplishment a high school student must feel when she's invited to present a research paper in Manhattan.

Not to mention the subsequent feeling of pride when that student is asked to read her paper at a university-level conference.

Just imagine the elation when, subsequently, the invitation arrives to present that very same paper in, of all places, Rome!

That's the opportunity recently handed to Tara Finlay and fellow classmate Carolyne Davis.

"It was really exciting, especially because I knew that I would have the opportunity to present my paper among college students," Finlay said. "It was an added bonus that the conference would be in Rome. You couldn't ask for more than that."

Finlay, a senior at The Willows Academy in Des Plaines, originally wrote the paper as an assignment in her moral theology class. Each student had to research a human rights issue and write a 15-page paper discussing the ethics of that issue.

Finlay's paper, "Is Capital Punishment A Justifiable Form of Punishment?" explored the death penalty and whether capital punishment is in accordance with human rights based on the teachings of the church. It also explored U.S. laws in regard to capital punishment. Part of the paper was based on the film "Dead Man Walking."

Holly Salls, Finlay and Davis' moral theology teacher at The Willows Academy, liked their papers so much, she submitted them to the New York office of UNIV, an international congress for university students based out of Rome.

Salls was so taken with the papers, she suggested that Finlay and Davis read their papers at UNIV's New York conference, usually reserved for college-level students.

Opus Dei, an institution of the church, operates UNIV and oversees the theology department at The Willows Academy. UNIV took Salls' suggestion to heart and Finlay and Davis were invited to its United States conference in New York in January. …