Summer classes and research offer academic opportunities

Over the 2021 summer term, Virginia Wesleyan University held 90 courses on campus and multiple research projects. These were available for students who wished to continue their studies during the break from the traditional school year. These courses were split up among five different sessions that varied from different time lengths; all concluded before the start of the fall semester. 

Dr. Terry Lindvall, professor of communication, taught a course during the first summer session titled Religion in Disney and Pixar. In this class the students learned about various religious aspects that could be observed in different Disney and Pixar films such as Monsters Inc, Coco, Beauty and the Beast and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. 

There were only 10 students in this class but “a good thing about teaching a summer course is they’re so wonderfully concentrated so you really get to know one another,” Lindvall said. 

In further discussion of the course he shared what the workload included for students. “Each student did a presentation on a particular film. They had to go through background research in the paper, do a powerpoint presentation and basically lead a discussion,” Lindvall said. 

Sophomore Dorothy Yanku-Palmer was a student in Lindvall’s class. She noticed that during the summer semester “you get to take classes that aren’t normally offered in the spring or fall.” 

When she saw the course description for Religion in Disney and Pixar it piqued her interest. “I never thought that you could use Disney in a religious sense so that was something really cool,” Yanku-Palmer said. 

On the subject of homework the students were assigned to do outside of class, Yanku-Palmer added that “getting to watch Disney movies for homework,” was the best part of this course.  

Another course that occurred over the summer semester was PSY 380, Supervised Research in Psychology. This course involved supervised research with Dr. Taryn Myers, professor of psychology, on her personal ongoing project. This project discussed the relationship between social comparison and body dissatisfaction. 

One student was selected to work alongside Myers for this project was senior Cherelle Gooch. The professor gave insight in regards to what this course offered for the student and what was expected from them during it. 

“PSY 380 is a great course opportunity where we offer students the chance to either do an independent research project or gain course credit for assisting professors with their research. The past few years, I have used it for the latter – having students help with designing and implementing my own research,” Myers said. 

Due to COVID-19 safety and health protocols, Myers was not able to meet with Gooch in person throughout the duration of this course, but they did not let that hinder their work. 

“We did everything remotely, but it was no big deal – meetings were just on Zoom instead of in person. The work for the student would have been largely independent, anyways,” Myers said. 

As Myers talked about the courses Virginia Wesleyan offered in the summer semester, she expressed how they were a good opportunity for students to gain experience in any field they wished to. “The experience of planning and implementing a project is awesome regardless of what direction or field people head to post-graduation.” Myers said.  

For more information about past or future summer classes offered at Virginia Wesleyan and how to enroll in them, contact your academic advisor or view the course listing at

By Jade East