It’s common for accomplishments in college – academically, professionally, personally, etc. – to feel like a constantly-moving target. Too often we get lost in an idea of what success will look like in the future instead of focusing on how it looks for us in the present moment. There is always more to do, more to learn, and more to pursue. When we do not stop to enjoy the process of becoming, this feels like an endless experience of questioning.
I had to challenge myself to see this continuous development as an experience of growth, and luckily this realization came with the start of a new opportunity. I became involved in research second semester of my first year through the First Experiences in Research program by the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity. Although I immediately fell in love with the research process, finding my area of study took deeper consideration. In a six-month adventure of academic exploration, literature review, and uncertainty about my future in research (truly a worthy and stressful pastime as a first-year college student), I developed and redeveloped my research questions again and again. It seemed as if every day I was gaining new and relevant knowledge that prompted reevaluation of my project. I was granted a research position alongside a team in the School of Nursing, and I began the process of incorporating my psychology research into their inspiring work as well.
The first time I heard my research questions asked in a clinical interview, I was awestruck. It felt as if my fascination was finally amounting to something. I look back on this memory with immense fondness. Listening to research interviews and understanding the patient clinical experience more deeply is a privilege, and to hear my own questions incorporated is an incredible aspect of this. This remains one of my proudest moments as an undergraduate college student.
Throughout this, I have decided to pursue the Bachelor of Philosophy through the University Honors College to allow myself to direct greater focus and effort toward research. I look forward to continuing this experience and to seeing my project have real impact as I know it has had an impact on me.
Research itself is full of questioning and reevaluating. In this way, it is a microcosm of the college experience. It teaches you to pursue the journey with a broader focus and with excitement for all the extra pieces you will learn along the way. There is some level of growing pains to the college experience, even if you enter with a determined idea of your goals and dreams. My experiences with research have made me more open to exploration and to finding joys along the way rather than striving for a singular goal. The process of growth is a worthy pursuit just as much as any goal.