This semester, I started what is perhaps seen as the most difficult, frightening and anxiety inducing classes every theatre or communication arts student has to take at Gannon University. That class is Senior Seminar/Thesis. When I was a freshman, I heard many horror stories and I started to wonder how on Earth I would survive the quick deadlines, 50 sources and 20-plus pages.

During my junior year, I took a class on Contemporary Issues in Media and Theater with Fr. Shawn Clerkin and I had to write a huge paper about a contemporary issue using a communications model. I was not sure what issue I would write about at first, but then it hit me: “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” had come out earlier that year and one of the models we discussed was Propp’s Character Type Theory. Propp’s theory states that the same character types appear in just about every story. I suddenly knew what I was going to write about.

The paper ended up being a lot longer than it was originally supposed to be. I guess that is what happens when you are a bit of a “Star Wars” nerd like me. Then it suddenly hit me; I was going to write my thesis on “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.”

Write about something you love.

Force awakens

Ever since I was in fifth grade, I have been really interested in the “Star Wars” movies. It really helps to research and write about something I am genuinely interested in. As the course instructor M.C. Gensheimer puts it, “Choose something you could fall in love with for one semester.” “Star Wars” was an easy choice for me.

Start finding sources early.


You don’t have to do all 50, but if you know what you are writing about, it is never too early to start researching. You will be very thankful once you start the semester.

Determine why you are a credible person to write about your topic.

Nerd Alert

I ended up doing my thesis on “Star Wars” and how music and sound design impacts character portrayal. I am a “Star Wars” nerd. I played violin in orchestra for all four years of high school and I helped with the sound design for the Schuster Theatre’s production of “Pygmalion.” Put it all together and you have my thesis topic.

Ask M.C. Gensheimer any questions you may have.


She is the instructor of the course and will do anything in her power to help you succeed, from sending you sources she stumbles upon to asking any questions you have at any point during your college career.

Start working on your portfolio early.


In Senior Seminar/Thesis, you will have to put together a physical and online portfolio. At Gannon, you will have a lot of artifacts that could go in there, from writing assignments to programs, pictures and audio files.