As we enter the last three weeks of this project, I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve learned from the Community Research Fellowship, and how many people have worked tirelessly to make that possible. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, there are so many components to making a project run smoothly, and so many people who must be invested in the project. In the case of my research, I’m working alongside the cohort in the Community Research Fellowship, the Community Research Fellowship mentors, the Justice Scholars group, and the A+ Schools partners. Each aspect of this research project has been integral in creating all of the components involved. With so many people supporting me, I’ve been able to brainstorm and collaborate to develop my research. In one of our earlier Justice Scholars meetings, each of the three fellows shared their current research questions. With the help of one another and our Project Coordinator, we were able to transform our research questions into concise, cohesive questions that captured our visions for our individual projects. This meeting especially stands out to me because of the progress we were able to make in just one brief meeting because of our work helping one another to improve our research questions.
The remote aspect of this research fellowship has certainly made the project different from any other research I’ve conducted previously. Interacting solely in a virtual setting has presented some obstacles, but it has also proved beneficial in other areas. While it is sometimes more difficult to communicate virtually than in an in-person, interactive space, it has also been easier to set up meetings that accommodate everyone’s schedules. In an online setting, there are no commute times, which has been invaluable in coordinating brief meetings. Over the past year and a half, collaboration has definitely looked different than it did before, but that hasn’t made it any less meaningful. I’m amazed by the work of our collaborators to help us feel connected to the community even without being physically in Pittsburgh.
One of the really amazing things about the Community Research Fellowship is that, despite vast topics that different projects cover, many of the students in the cohort were having similar experiences throughout the program. Any challenges or successes expressed by one member of the cohort were often shared by others. Working across project fields offers the opportunity to share findings and experiences that may give new perspectives, or may be common among different disciplines.
The collaboration that’s occurred thus far has been really enriching, and I’m looking forward to expanding my research network further in trying to garner a deeper understanding of education in Pittsburgh. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to connect with even more people involved in Pittsburgh education: students, administrators, city officials, state representatives, and beyond. There are so many people involved in making a school system functional, from the people who have direct interaction with the students to the policymakers whose actions impact students.
I’m so grateful to all of the people I’ve collaborated with throughout the course of this project, and I’m looking forward to seeing the culmination of everyone’s work!