Over these past few weeks, I have worked alongside a team of community, faculty, and student partners that have made my work more meaningful, inspiring, and beneficial to the communities. My faculty mentors, Dr. Esohe Osai, Dr. Shayne Campbell, and graduate student Jackie Spiezia, have mentored and monitored my entire research process. In doing this, they created an efficient work environment as well as safe space for self discovery and reflection. Our community partner, A+ schools, has allowed us to join community meetings, as well as provided weekly updates for the district. Dr. Kaitlyn Brennan, who is a federal lobbyist, has provided state, federal, and community knowledge that we discuss in our meetings. This has allowed me to experience the disciplines of federal lobbying, funding from a policy standpoint, community action, and research. Within research, I have learned the processes of data visualization, proper terminology, community engaged equitable practices, and discussion on critical race theory. This has been one of my first experiences in research, and has inspired me to look into future paths within research. This research project topic interested me because it was something that was valuable to the community, as well as a topic of interest. The research I have done so far has been mainly with qualitative data. I hope to learn more of the quantitative side of things in future endeavors. My research differs from literature I have read due to the approach to academic support with a critical and equitable lens. It consolidates many papers on best practices, as well as student obstacles. It is similar to research by focusing on what is best for students while taking into account the resources and funding afforded to schools. It is important to recognize that in most scenarios, it is out of the teachers control to catch a student up, first due to unavoidable student scenarios and second the lack of time and resources afforded to respond to that absence. Alongside this, for schools that serve large and diverse student populations, it is beneficial to provide additional academic support for students in challenging courses and the college application process. My goals for the rest of summer are to finalize my research project, finishing my literature review as well as my website creation. I continue to learn of best practices for research in every discussion with my various mentors. I have grown as a person in my professional, academic, and social environments. In my discussions and reflections so far, I have been exposed to new experiences and new obstacles that black and brown students must overcome in our education system. I strive to question and critique the education systems that underserve low income and minority students as well as support the ongoing efforts and initiatives in communities. I have created connections with various disciplines of work, and hope to continue these relationships throughout my time at the University of Pittsburgh. In working with people across varied disciplines, I have been able to learn much more than if just under one area of work. Working across disciplines allows people with different knowledge and skills to collaborate. This also promotes meaningful discussions and learning through each other.
This project has been very beneficial as it has opened the door to a realm of career paths and future possibilities for myself. I have learned outside of my own schooling, being from the business school. However, in this experience, I have been able to connect my classes so far into the research I have done. Furthermore, this experience can be applied to problem solving, collaboration, handling data, and more for further business related endeavors. In my career path down the road, this experience has opened to a whole new area of possibilities. I strive to create more connections in the field of research and policy reform. In the contacts I’ve created so far, I have requested for their mentorship for the rest of college. I hope to work with different people throughout college, and this experience specifically has helped with research and lobbying.