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Scholarship in citation

Posted on December 2, 2009

Senior honors theses typically enjoy a limited readership of faculty advisors, friends and family.

Ted Nesi '07 can claim a few more readers for his thesis "Lion in Winter: Edward M. Kennedy in the Bush Years; A Study in Senate Leadership."

nesiA political science major who graduated summa cum laude, Nesi recently learned that his senior honors thesis on U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy is cited by none other than the senator himself in his book, True Compass: A Memoir.

"I actually hadn't read the book yet when I heard, but a friend who did sent me a Facebook message saying it's in there," said Nesi, who now works for as the web editor for the Providence Business News and writes occasionally for the Wheaton Quarterly and other publications.

The news prompted Nesi to conduct a search, leading him to discover that his thesis is also cited as a source in the book "The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby and Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled by Vincent Bzdek, which published in April 2009.

He describes his thesis, thusly:

I was always interested in the Senate because of its small size and odd rules, and I also found Senator Kennedy fascinating because of his long career, as well as the drama of his public successes and his private problems. My thesis looked specifically at Senator Kennedy’s work from 2001 to 2007, during the Bush administration, and contrasted the way he switched between cooperating with Bush (specifically, to pass No Child Left Behind) and opposing him (on the Iraq war). I argued that his mastery of the Senate’s ways and mores made him one of the most effective members in the chamber’s long history.

While Nesi can't say how his thesis came to the attention of Sen. Kennedy, or of others, he notes that Wheaton publishes students' honors theses online and makes the works searchable in academic databases.

The Wheaton alum confesses to being both "thrilled and shocked" by the idea that the late senator read his work and cited it as a source.

"The only bad thing ... they got my name wrong and called me "Michael Nesi." But I'm hoping I can get the publisher to fix that in the next printing."

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