I have previously completed a directed study and research fellowship with the School of Social Work’s Pittsburgh Wage Study. Throughout this study experience, I learned a lot about the technical skills in qualitative studies- surveying, interviewing, memos, transcription and coding. This was my first research experience and it was an incredible experience. I made some incredible connections within the School of Social Work with those researchers that I assisted. Overall, that fellowship was really incredible to learn about research processes and professional development.
When beginning my Community Research Fellowship through the Honors College, I was very excited about the opportunity to have a cohort of other student researchers and multiple mentors- both in the Honors College and in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. I had taken two classes previously with Professor Idoko, so I was familiar with his project before this fellowship. I was interested in this project because there were different aspects of the research process that I would be able to actually learn to do myself. Through this experience, I would have the opportunity to help with community engagement and develop my own surveys. I basically had the opportunity to collaborate on a project that was beneficial to the needs of the Office while still focusing on a topic I was interested in. Since my initial class with Ron my freshman year of college, I was interested in what it means to be civically engaged within my local, state, and university communities. This intrigue pushed me to pursue a minor in Public Service and future enrollment at the GSPIA school after graduation this semester. Getting involved in this research experience centered on civic engagement in a collaborative community-based research process really wrapped up my undergraduate career really nicely.
My favorite thing about working in public service is the many disciplines you get to work with. Within my project, there are several aspects to civic engagement that we wanted to develop for the app users including environment, local politics, healthcare, voting rights, internet access gap, world conflicts, and economics. There are so many interesting aspects to the research in policy and civic engagement that require collaboration with experts in different fields. My first semester doing the fellowship, I was collecting research in different fields to help develop questions for the app. This semester, I was collaborating more closely with my project supervisors and also collecting qualitative data from the CivWiz Fellows who are Pitt students from a variety of majors and backgrounds. This part of the fellowship experience has expanded my network profoundly, and has helped me analyze issues from other perspectives.