My understanding of my research project significantly changed throughout the summer. I assumed that my background knowledge and previously conducted research would easily translate into a larger-scale research project. I also assumed that my research question was original enough for a larger-scale research project. Both of these assumptions were proven false, but for the best. Part of my research includes working with an outside organization, and much of my original plan and timeline has changed based on what the organization needed and when they were able to communicate with me. Also, in working with my organization, I found that they had already been approached by researchers about projects similar to mine. However, in letting go of my original research strategy, I was able to work with my organization to alter my research question and project to fit their needs and create truly original work. Furthermore, I learned that in order to conduct research with an outside organization, one must be dedicated to the goals/mission of the group in order to stay motivated and see the project through, regardless of inevitable hurdles.
Personally, the most valuable part of the Brackenridge Fellowship has been the structure of the meetings, specifically the balance of participating in both large and small group discussions. This aspect kept me engaged throughout the weekly meetings, and helped me learn from both experienced faculty and my peers. I was able to gain professional advice alongside tips from my peers, both of which helped me critically examine my immediate research and future goals.
In terms of next steps, I am applying for a Bachelor’s of Philosophy to continue my research, and completing the BPhil before I graduate in the spring of 2023. I am looking forward to taking some independent studies courses with my research advisor during the upcoming semester to complete the bulk of my BPhil. After graduation, I will be taking a gap year to work and volunteer in Pittsburgh, and apply to graduate school. I plan on applying to joint Master’s of Public Health and Master’s of Social Work programs, concentrating on the policy aspect of these fields. My hope is that this track will help me find a career that helps fix the issues that my current research is finding.