magazine-category: Students

Connections and Community

student on a laptop

Michelle Lominac, ’23, Values the Peers and Faculty Contributing to her Educational Journey

Ask senior Michelle Lominac, of Concord, N.C., to name the most important lesson she’s learned at Gardner-Webb University, and her answer reveals her approachable personality, character and priorities.

“My biggest takeaway—make connections,” Lominac affirms. “Making connections with peers maximizes the experience as a whole. Making connections with faculty is key to finding a mentor, seeking help, and asking for advice. Making these connections has been the best thing for me to get the most out of my education, so it’s certainly something I’ll carry with me.”

A political science major in the University Honors Program, Lominac participated in the 2022 GWU Summer Undergraduate Research Program and gained experience for graduate school. She is minoring in business administration and criminal justice administration. Her plans are to pursue a Master of Public Administration and then, a career as a city or county manager.

The topic of her five-week summer research was exploring how the First Amendment protection of free speech applies to social media platforms. “In researching full-time, I found so much information that I learned how to use scholarly judgment to wade through the many articles and theories and find those most substantial, significant, and valuable to me,” she expounded. “I learned how to reshape my view throughout the process—how to step back and imagine my project from an unbiased perspective in order to decide my next steps.”

In her study, Lominac discovered the tension that exists between First Amendment protections of the freedom of speech and the editorial and liability rights of private entities, such as social media corporations. “There has been a lot of speculation about the legislative and judicial future of the topic, so it has been great to explore the variety of potential solutions,” Lominac offered. “However, there is no applicable jurisprudence, and the laws that exist concerning the internet are outdated.”

Her faculty mentor was Dr. Elizabeth Amato, associate professor of political science and international relations. Lominac appreciated Amato’s guidance hen the information she discovered didn’t match her plans for the project. “She assured me and helped me figure out a new direction to take my research,” Lominac related. “She let me know that sometimes scholarship is not as simple as we would like or expect, but we can roll with the punches and allow the work to enhance our ideas.”

Lominac advises students who want to apply for the Summer Undergraduate Research Program to choose a topic they want to spend hours researching. “I grew up in politics,” she shared, “I’ve grown to love political science for all its facets—politics, theory, government. I chose a business administration minor, because I felt it would be versatile for whatever my future plans would be. I also chose a criminal justice administration minor, because I was interested to learn more about the system from an administrative perspective.”

Lominac serves as secretary for the Alpha Chi honor society and was part of a collaborative research group that won an award and monetary prize at the national Alpha Chi convention. She is also hospitality coordinator for The Gathering, the weekly student-led worship service.

“Gardner-Webb is home,” she asserted. “I’m supported and encouraged in my academic and nonacademic pursuits. I’m comfortable yet challenged daily. Most importantly, I’ve found an irreplaceable community at Gardner-Webb.”

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