[Diverse Student Scholars Spring 2017 Graduates at the UCO STLR Cording Ceremony on May 5, 2017.
From L to R: Dr. Sims, Cindy Vo, Anna Henson, Brittany Rudolph, Ashley Neese, and Treyce Glidden]
Each June, I’m reminded of the value that undergraduate research engagement brings to unsuspecting students. Once timid and uncertain at the start of their Diverse Student Scholars experience, research assistants have transformed into award-winning and confident graduates by May commencement.
It’s June when I get a moment to pause and reflect. Spring Commencements are over, and a brief window exists between end-of-semester grading and the start of summer which brings a new class and ongoing administrative work. This June's reflection is focused on more lives touched through weekly team research meetings and the need to share more funded assistantship opportunities with new students. The work is a type of calling etched in my mind as a constant nudge to improve Diverse Student Scholars recruiting efforts.
The question of “Why research” is a good one that continues to loom. Many good reasons exist. In particular, research makes sense for companies and organizations to understand their markets, their audiences, and their customers' experiences. Research better informs decisions related to products, campaigns, and message strategies. However, why should undergraduate students, who are not faced just yet with making such professional corporate judgments, engage in research?
For me the answer is a simple one; albeit, I’m quite biased.
Great students and great professors are willing learners with at least one thing in common - we are all continuously researching something; we all remain curious about something that begs to be answered. And, if we’re living, we’ll remain that way for life. It’s a fascinating space to occupy. A space that relinquishes timidity and uncertainty in pursuit of learning something new about a topic or focal area.
Seizing research opportunities isn’t just a way to engage in an undergraduate academic experience; it is the way to engage life. It is a commitment to repeatedly question, test, and learn something new.
Congratulations to this year’s group of Diverse Student Scholars graduates! Cheers to your willingness to inquire, engage, and research for life!