This summer has been such an unforgettable experience.
When I first interviewed for the program I was so excited and eager to do it all. I wanted to write a manuscript on in existing dataset of undocumented student’s experience. Soon I realized that was impossible to do in 8 weeks. I still had to code and analyze my data. As a result I had to minimize my project aim to creating a codebook instead so it could help me analyze my data later. I added two additional coders to help me create the codebook. We successfully finished the codebook with 40 emerging themes/codes. It did not end up being the best end outcome since I wanted to have part of my manuscript done by the end of this summer. However, I made progress.
Thus, my biggest challenge was not having results. Usually when I present a poster I have concrete results. The results that I will present will be the themes we found in the interview sessions. Another challenge was working with two additional people. Since I started my project I have worked only with my faculty mentor. When I added two additional coders to my project to reduce bias, it was a little difficult. It was a new role/ situation for me. I had never been in a leadership position related to research. It was challenging in the sense that I did not know how to handle that much responsibility. I got through it and it was a great experience.
My greatest accomplishment was experiencing this new leadership position with my coders. When I go to graduate school I am probably going to have this type of leadership relationship with undergraduate students, so this this experience will help for then. Another accomplishment was doing an oral presentation instead of only doing a poster presentation. I have never done an oral presentation related to research. I am excited to present!! I am feeling good about presenting tomorrow at the symposium.
I am definitely continuing this project beyond SROP. I am going to start coding my interviews and start analyzing the data very soon (next week). Also, I am hoping my abstract gets accepted to a psychology conference that will be next year!
I would like to thank my faculty mentor Dr. Laura Pittman, and the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning for making thus summer a great learning experience!! Thanks a lot!
Since I entered college in 2010, I have been preparing to be the best candidate to apply for graduate school. My biggest dream is to get accepted to a Ph.D. program in the west coast. My plan is to apply for graduate school this semester, and hopefully get admitted and start in Fall 2015. I am still indecisive of what specific program within the field of psychology I would like to apply for, but I am in the process of figuring that out. My ultimate goals is to become a professor, but also become a clinician. As a professor I want to research on the mental health of underrepresented communities. As a clinician I wish I could apply the findings form my studies through therapy. However I know it is hard to do both, so I think It would be more powerful to continue researching and aid mental health professional with empirical data.
As a result, I want to continue working on my research skills, so I could get into a competitive graduate program. Hopefully next time you hear from me, I will be saying I got admitted to a Ph.D. program!!
As the program comes to an end, it feels bitter sweet. I am so excited to present my research in a couple of days, but I am also relieved it will be over. Research is my passion but it could be quite stressful!! This week I only have a couple of things to do before I am ready to present. I have to polish my oral presentation and present to my faculty mentor and my peers to see what I need to clarify/fix. Plus I need to do LOTS of practicing.
For my oral presentation I will have background information on the hardships undocumented students undergo, and how their process of acculturation and psychological well-being is influenced by their status. There needs to be more research done on undocumented college student, since most of the research has been on the broader undocumented community. Thus, my study focuses on how my project will help contribute to the literature on undocumented students. I will also present on common themes that emerged from the interviews and will have some cool quotes. Below are some quotes:
“I tried to assimilate to the American culture.. otherwise they would kind of question where I am coming from..because I was afraid they would know that I was undocumented.”
” never be[ing] able to just to breathe… to always be hypo aware of all of my surroundings where police where. Where authority where, where my information was going.. what I was putting down, who I was talking to. I was in a constant state of danger, it was a constant state of targeted and that is not fun at all. I never got a chance to rest so that was incredibly draining”
I have been working with Dr. Laura Pittman for over a year, and it has been a pleasure working with her. My research interest are very particular, thus it was hard looking for a faculty mentor that was a match. However, I knew I would receive great mentorship from her. Broadly her current research interest are related to diversity issues. More specifically she is interested in the role of grandparents and how it influences the development of children and adolescents. One project she is currently working examines three generations of Latinos (i.e., grandmother, mother, adolescent), where she will conduct different task to examine their interactions. She is also working on developing a research project on ethnic socialization, which will help us understand what/how parents transmit messages about their own ethnicity to their children. I was part of developing the beginning of this project during spring semester. She has given me a lot of opportunities to broadly develop my research skills.
Dr. Pittman has been a great supporter that has influenced my knowledge in research; throughout this summer she has really guided me in the right direction. I get too excited and want to do everything on my project, and she has been able to direct me on the right direction. She was also offered me a lot of opportunities where I can present my research. We are currently working on submitting an abstract to a child development conference. Hopefully it gets accepted!!!
Although Dr. Pittman’s area of expertise is not immigration and qualitative research methods, she has been a great supporter. She has thought me the foundations of research and enhanced my writing skills. So for my project I am doing a qualitative approach to it, and she has done a few projects similar. Thus she has been able to give the necessary resources to structure my project similar. I would not be where I am without her guidance.
Being an SROP participant has been such a rewarding experience. Especially because of all the activities and workshops the program has set up for us. I really enjoyed the leadership academy presentation, and the responsible conduct of research workshop. They both taught me something new about research. We often think that research only pertains to conducting your research project and then writing up your results, but we forget other aspects of it. The leadership academy workshop helped me develop as a leader and researcher. For example I have two coders helping me develop my project, and this workshop helped me develop my leadership style when working with them. I think that this workshop helped me become a stronger and more supportive leader for the people I am working with during my research projects, and it will also help for future projects, especially for graduate school.
I also enjoyed the conduct of research workshop. I am sure everyone will come across a situation where you have to use your knwoledge on ethnics. There will be situations where you do not know what to do, and this workshop opened my eyes to many unethical situations that could happen and how to handle them. It was also an interactive workshop, which kept me awake, a VERY interested.
Thus far, I think I have developed my leadership skills as a researcher, skills that enhance my professional etiquette, and networking skills. All the networking opportunities this program has offered us has lead me to be confident when interacting with faculty, administrators and potential employers.
Also, I have learned about new resources or projects coming up at NIU. President Baker and Vice president and provost Dr. Lisa Freeman invited me, to talk to about my research in a retreat for administrators at NIU. The other presenters/panelist spoke about projects that are helping NIU create Bold Futures. For example, one panelist talked about an initiative NIU is developing to understand the underrepresented community around NIU, where most of the community is undergoing high rates of violence and poverty. Also, there was another panelist talking about a peer advocate program in the English department that helps first year students with their writing skills. I learned a lot in this retreat. These resources will enhance my experience here at NIU, to make it a better experience.
One-word advice I could give to a new high school students is : RESEARCH!!
I could not imagine my life without any research experience. All the research programs I have been involved in, especially SROP, have really opened a lot of doors for me. I have been able to develop personally and academically by doing research. Programs like SROP, which is a rigorous program develops your communications skills, analytical thinking, preparedness for your future is a great experience. Personally, SROP has exposed me to a new environment I have never experienced. All the workshops, and interactions with diverse students opened my mind to new ideas and awareness. SROP has also been an educational and learning space where I have learned about other fields, which makes me more competent.
Thus, I would tell a high school students to go FOR IT!! Research will prepare you for the work in the classroom. It will help you develop your writing skills, your responsibility and determination as a student. These skills will be developed while doing a research project, which will make it easy while doing class work. Also it will help you develop personally, because you will learn a lot about yourself, how you react when you are under pressure, how much you know about different diverse backgrounds.
Generally, research is a great experience because you learn about your field of study, and you develop personally and academically. You will not regret it! Plus, your research project could be anything you are passionate about. You can do your own research project, for most cases, unless you are more in STEM fields. But even then if you really are passionate about a topic you could make it work!!
What seemed to be an easy and fast project, evolved to a much more complex project. I am creating a codebook of the qualitative responses of undocumented students describing their psychological well-being and/or experience. To avoid bias, I have two coders helping me read the 19 interview sessions. We meet on a weekly basis in order to create the codebook. We are currently on level one of the Ground Theory coding. In level one, we read all the interview sessions and find common themes that seem to come up among all the interview sessions. They are very specific phrases and/or themes(e.g., Feeling less in touch with their American identity because it emphasizes a more individualist approach) . We currently have several themes that we think have emerged, and we all agreed on them. We mostly have found codes for the first 3 sections of the interview sessions, which include questions regarding acculturation (i.e., how they are adapting to a new culture), the challenges of being undocumented, and their approach to school (i.e., who influenced their approach to school).
I initially thought it would be easier to create a codebook, where I would have defined themes within the first week, but it is more complex than I thought. It takes time for all three of us to read and re-read the interview sessions and then come up with themes. However, we are half way done creating the codebook. It has been especially hard for me because not only do I have to read the interview sessions very closely to try to interpret their responses in a non-bias way, but also I have to read the other coders themes and make a list of all our themes. I am still having a lot of fun, because it is something I am so passionate about. Their responses are interesting and I know this data will contribute to the literature on the mental health of undocumented students.
Due to confidentiality issues of my data, and not having my codebook done I do not have any visuals. But I have visuals of the experiences I have encountered with other SROP peers.