I have learned so many things through my journey as a Brackenridge fellow. This was my first, individual research project in which I was entirely responsible for the outcomes. Initially, this was daunting, but as I conducted more research, I progressively became more comfortable doing it.
My research during this time taught me that when you conduct research, you are left with more questions than answers. For my project, I was able to isolate certain qualities of and actions taken by Thornburgh that influenced the success of the ADA. However, after determining these things, I was left wondering whether this framework could practically be applied for other marginalized groups, or if the results of my research could be applied in areas other than policy-work, like in healthcare. While these questions were overwhelming at first, I began to appreciate them. The benefit of my project having a wide scope is that it allows me the freedom to investigate these questions in more fields in which I am interested, like healthcare.
Rather than a specific event or interaction leading me to change my understanding of conducting research, it was the entire journey that enlightened me. I ran into obstacles like not being able to read Thornburgh’s handwriting, and not finding a definitive stance of his on disability rights prior to his son’s accident. I also had rewarding moments like finding a newspaper clipping of something for which I was looking. These challenges and triumphs taught me that research is a rocky road to an unknown but fruitful destination!
The aspect of the Brackenridge experience that I valued the most was being given the opportunity to pursue a topic that was very different from my path of education. I am on the pre-med track and most of my school schedule consists of STEM classes. Hence, being able to do archival research about something extremely different from STEM but also something in which I was really interested opened my eyes to the diverse research opportunities in the UHC and at Pitt as a whole.
Now that the Brackenridge is over, I feel highly motivated to get involved with a lab at Pitt. Whether it be research in biology, psychology, or another area of my interest, I would love to gain more experience in conducting research. Using this experience, I would be interested in looking into other summer fellowships offered by Pitt to conduct research that merges my interest in psychology with my future career goal of going into medicine. Specifically, I am interested to study how decision-making affects healthcare outcomes of racial minorities to determine how bias training must be refined for healthcare workers.