Wrapping up my Community Research Fellowship

This was a great experience for me this summer. I learned a lot about my specific project and about research in general. In the beginning of this fellowship, I had the idea that this research would be really cut and dry. I thought that I would be looking at contracts and complaint data and finding something from it. In reality, it was a lot more listening to what my community partner needed and revisioning how what I wanted to do fit into their vision. This research is more realistic in terms of how social justice and advocacy work works. Community collaboration and listening to the community’s needs over your own is important for change and accomplishing inclusivity. There were times during this fellowship that I had a really clear idea of what I wanted to do, but going to community meetings and hearing where the needs of the community truly lie changed what I though and how I conducted my research.

As this was my first experience with research at all, I valued how immersive it was. This fellowship felt like a true example of how research is conducted as a person involved, not just as a student. I found that the independence allowed me to take the project in the direction that I saw fit and was necessary for collaboration. My favorite part about this fellowship and the independence of it all was my ability to establish a connection while bringing something to the table, but also continuing the relationships in my own way.

This fellowship did test me in some ways. I found that being by myself in Texas and not really able to connect with my cohort brought about some challenges. There were also some instances where things were not moving fast or I felt confused and had to problem solve for myself. Adjusting my expectations was also a challenge. I went into this research expecting one thing and then having to revision what my project was actually going to look like.

This fellowship did allow me to focus solely on research over the summer, which I would always like to prioritize, but being able to financially support myself takes precedent. I plan to continue pursuing research over this next semester and throughout my sophomore year. While my community partner, Allegheny County Policing Project, does not have funding opportunities for me, I will continue to volunteer with them at least through the next semester because it is a project that I am truly passionate about.

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