Tuesday, July 20, 2021
Valencia College has developed an undergraduate research initiative — based on nationally recognized models — that expands opportunities for students to partner meaningfully with faculty members to pursue a specific course of research. As most community colleges only offer undergraduate research as a very small boutique opportunity for a few students, Valencia has become a leader in community college research. Last year, hundreds of Valencia students worked in one or more modalities of research. This is vital for students exploring STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) -related professions through transfer, both to better discern their purpose and pathway, and to have experiences comparable to their peers at the university to which they transfer.
Undergraduate research at Valencia College gave graduate Eve Vazquez an opportunity to think critically and develop a deeper understanding of the world around her, she says — all skills important to prepare her for the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Psychology program in which she is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science, as well as a future career in psychology.
Eve first became involved in research during her sophomore year at Valencia through the Seneff Honors College program Undergraduate Research Track. As a part of a capstone course to complete the track, she conducted an experimental research project alongside her mentor, Professor of Psychology Marc Gentzler, on the topic of working memory — “Effects of Interhemispheric Interaction Using Active and Passive Touch Stimulation on Working Memory in Young and Senior Adults.” Learn about this research project, and watch Eve’s presentation here.
According to Eve, the capstone course, taught by Professor of Psychology Melonie Sexton, provided her with helpful, basic knowledge of the research process.
“This was a great first step into the world of research for me,” Eve explained. “The fact that I had a positive experience in this class, and positive interactions with my professor, made it so that the thought of conducting research on my own did not seem intimidating. It is also important to note that I left this class with a clear plan of how I would pursue research in the future. If this hadn’t been the case, I’m sure it would be much less likely that I would still be pursuing research now, almost a year after having taken the class.”
Eve also explained that participating in research is fulfilling, as the work is both engaging and important. Participating in undergraduate research has challenged me and helped facilitate my growth as a student. It has fostered the development of invaluable skills that I hope to apply to my future endeavors in higher education and in my career. I feel that participating in research at Valencia, specifically, gave me a solid foundation as a student. It enhanced the confidence that I have in my abilities and prepared me to continue my pursuit of research at other institutions.”
Now Eve is continuing her research under a team of faculty mentors from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center focusing on organizational network analysis with cancer treatment centers.
Upon her graduation from UCF, she plans to earn a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology and pursue a career in this field.
To nominate a student doing great undergraduate research or for questions about Valencia’s undergraduate research initiative, contact Melonie Sexton, professor, psychology, and coordinator of undergraduate research, at UR@valenciacollege.edu or 407-299-5000, extension 5632.