One of the most compelling aspects of the Brackenridge Fellowship is the diverse community of students that it engages. Though I am very passionate about nursing and love the intimate classes, I often feel like there is an obstacle in my way for meeting different students. Just 3 weeks in, I feel a connection to my like-minded peers in that we are all driven and passionate about a unique topic.
As we have discussed in our weekly meetings, when you first think of research, you typically think of scientists in a lab looking through microscopes or scholars in a library reading through massive volumes. However, I am already learning how different interest areas use research to develop specific niches. I found it really interesting that in my cohort, other students’ interests range from exploring poetry to clinical issues such as health literacy, which closely relates to my project focus. And while Sarah is investigating the use of the “war” metaphor in women with breast cancer, she has a wide range of interests, including American Sign Language. Likewise, Alyssa is researching the use of Black Language in social media and eventually hopes to be an audiologist. Though we all have vastly different research projects, the three of us can find some common ground. Moreover, I cannot wait to learn more about the projects and students that I have not yet found such a direct connection because I am sure those connections are just waiting to be made.
While we have talked about the importance of interdisciplinary research on a relatively basic level, I am excited to do so firsthand with the other fellows. In our increasingly interconnected world, I think it is so important to cross boundaries and bridge gaps in our knowledge. Focusing on one area of interest isn’t nearly as effective in understanding our world as keeping an open mind and learning from others. Additionally, throughout this summer, I hope to learn ways to communicate effectively across disciplines with minimal jargon so that I can understand new ideas as well as relay my own. An interdisciplinary method of problem solving and understanding is definitely more difficult than a more singular approach. There are many projects with ideas that are brand new to me, such as Emily’s project on supernovae or Sam’s project on the development of the Italian language. Instead of viewing this as an obstacle to understanding their work, though, it is important to view it as an opportunity to learn something new. Overall, I think the benefits to interdisciplinary work outweigh the obstacles and hardships.
I never want to stop learning and actively seeking out new information throughout my life, and this fellowship is already introducing me to new ways to do so. By learning from our peers and making those connections between interests, we are bound to never stop learning new things.