One of the research skills that I worked on most over the summer was finding new ways to look for information that was relevant to my research. When I started researching for my project, it was easy to type in “immigrant healthcare” into search bars and read through the first materials that were popping up. However, as I continued through the summer, I had exhausted those easy-to-find resources and was having trouble finding more specific ones. I needed to become a little bit more creative about how I was searching for the information that I wanted to find. To address this, I reached out to my mentor and another professor in the history department who studies the history medicine. We talked about some of the different topics that could be related to healthcare and I started to put together some new paths for finding the information I wanted. I began to look at resources about immigrant work life, social organizations and food, looking for mentions of medicine or healthcare. I was able to find some connections that gave me more insight into modes of immigrant healthcare. This was important because I may have missed some of these resources if I hadn’t been intentionally looking for them because I did not see the connection to healthcare. I think that this skill, almost like problem solving, and the ability to think critically about different ways to approach a research topic is something that will be extremely useful to me in the future as I continue to conduct research.
I think that the most valuable aspect of the Brackenridge experience was that I was able to dedicate myself to researching full time over the summer. Having done research in the past, during the academic year, it was difficult to balance time between research and school work. Being able to have time dedicated to just my research really allowed me to interact more deeply with my work and get more out of it. Additionally, the meetings with the Brackenridge group and workshops helped create that “professional academic” experience. While I appreciated the time dedicated to research, it was also very helpful to get those enriching learning experiences from workshops and meetings. I am planning to pursue an MD/PhD program after graduation, so this is exactly the type of experiences that I will have in a graduate program. I will be interacting with other groups of scholars regularly in cohort meetings and dedicating a large amount of time for my PhD research. I think that having this experience in my undergraduate career is definitely something that will help be better prepared to do that in graduate school and will be something that I can show to programs that I am applying to.
As the Brackenridge program is finishing, there are few steps that I want to take next with my research. The first is hopefully culminating my research into a presentation/paper that I can submit to conferences and journals. I think that a conference would be a great space to share my research and be able to network with other historians. The next thing that I want to do with my research is build upon it for a Bachelor’s of Philosophy degree. I have spent the last week or so trying to determine in which direction I want to take my research next. This has been very difficult, as there are many ways that I can continue my research, but it is hard to decide on one. I have been speaking with multiple professors and faculty members about how to determine this and hope to make that decision soon so that I can apply for the BPhil program.
The image that I have chosen for the featured image is a mural that was done by Monika McAndrew titled “Bridging the Generations of Bloomfield” (2007). This mural still stands in Bloomfield and is meant to capture the rich history of the neighborhood, especially it’s immigrant population. I think that this beautiful mural is similar to my research in the way that it attempts to connect Pittsburgh’s immigrant past with the present.