Pursuit with Purpose

With application to the Brackenridge Fellowship, students are prompted to submit a proposal of their project. We craft letters detailing the background, methodology, and driving force of our project as succinctly as possible. True to form, we envision the ideal progression of our research where recruitment always goes swiftly and data analysis always ends in our anticipated results. What the Brackenridge offers, then, is the opportunity to navigate what occurs when a project does not go according to plan. In this way, research is a microcosm of not only the college experience but a broader experience students will find in our future careers.

Through the Summer 2021 Brackenridge Fellowship, I studied experiences of the war metaphor as emotion regulation in women with metastatic breast cancer alongside Dr. Margaret Rosenzweig in the School of Nursing. Broadly, my work was split into two parts. First, I worked in continued pursuit of the BPhil. The Bachelor of Philosophy program through the University Honors College allows me to pursue a dedicated, interdisciplinary thesis while retaining a focus on my Psychology major. I had begun working on my BPhil application several months prior to the summer, but it wasn’t until the Brackenridge Fellowship that I was able to fully focus on my application. I conducted a thorough review of literature related to my project, expanding across psycho-oncology to medical rhetoric to cognitive reappraisal and emotion suppression. After several months of work on my proposal and what will likely make up a bulk of my final thesis, I was accepted as a BPhil degree candidate this summer! I am enthusiastic to move forward with the process and pursue this research as a dedicated thesis.

Secondly, as a part of finalizing my project, I began data analysis. This involved developing a strict methodology of analysis and following through transcriptions, qualitative codebook development, and thematic analysis. I had never conducted a research project based in qualitative data, so learning to parse out what was important and how those data figures turned into patterns was a new experience. I am now more confident in my abilities to conduct qualitative data analysis and, perhaps more importantly, to adapt to new skills required for the success of the project.

Most importantly, however, I will leave the Brackenridge Fellowship having met peers across departments and disciplines I never would have met prior. The Brackenridge Fellowship taught me to adapt to change, spread my wings, and share my research more broadly. Research is never a solitary exercise, but this reminded me of how much research is a community. I look forward to expanding my Brackenridge project into a BPhil thesis and to seeing what more I can learn in the fields of psychology, medicine, and linguistics – as well as the many fascinating fields of my fellows!

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