The beauty and challenges of research

In the last decades the demographics of the U.S has changed dramatically. As we sit in a meeting, during class, in a coffee shop we encounter a wide variety of people from different backgrounds. Every person we encounter has a story, a struggle and different immigration status. There is an estimated of 11.2 undocumented immigrants (Passel,& D’Vera Cohn, 2011), with about 80,000 youth graduating from a U.S high school every year ( Passel, 2006). The ethnic background of these undocumented immigrants is diverse with high populations migrating from Central America, Asia, Mexico & the middle east ( Passel 2009). As these undocumented immigrants settle in a new country, they undergo extreme financial and psychological stressors. Thus, my project will be examining the psychological well-being of undocumented students from two different social and political environments. More specifically, I will be analyzing qualitative interview sessions to create a code book. In addition, I will be preparing to write the introduction to a manuscript on the findings from this project. 

I have been studying this topic about two years. I did a previous research project when I was in research rookies. I looked at the mental health of undocumented students who grew up in a suburban area. Throughout the process of developing these two research projects, I have learned a lot about the field of cross-cultural psychology. Since the literature on the mental health of undocumented college students is limited, I have been able to learn a lot about most of the existing studies. However, I still have a lot to learn and develop. Thus, one of the challenges I might encounter is not having innovative literature on this topic, or having my data be very similar to others. I want to find innovative findings but my topic might be too broad. For example, I am looking broadly at undocumented students psychological well-being (i.e., sense of self, relation with others, autonomy, personal growth, environmental mastery, purpose of life) instead of looking at a certain aspect of their well-being such as their sense of self. Although, the interview questions I asked touched on each area of their psychological well-being, my findings will be able to have information on each section which will help other researchers who only focus on one area of their well-being.

One of the workshops that helped me develop my research skills and lessen my fear of experiencing challenges along my project has been the Zotero workshop. It helped me become more organized, so I could keep track of the articles I am reading to help me write the introduction to my manuscript. The leadership workshops also helped me. It helped build my confidence as a researcher, and learn how to be a leader in research. Although my project is mostly working with my faculty mentor, I also work with two additional coders that decided to help me analyze my data. Thus, I learned how to become an effective leaders and researcher to develop an amazing end result of my project.




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