Spotlight on Undergraduate Research — Miranda Rublaitus

Monday, May 16, 2022

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.

Miranda Rublaitus, a Distinguished Graduate finalist who graduated from Valencia College with an associate degree in statistics, plans to attend an undergraduate research summer program at the University of Rochester focused on data science.

During her time at Valencia, she conducted a research project alongside her mentor, Professor of Mathematics Sidra Van De Car, on poverty measurement in the United States. The calculated percentage of the population that lives in poverty is used to gauge the status of our nation and the funding for social programs.

“Congress will use this number when considering policy regarding those in poverty. If this number is skewed or inaccurate, we do a disservice to our most vulnerable populations,” said Miranda as she described her research.

When she enrolled at Valencia, Miranda was not aware of the opportunities she would get to participate in a research project. When she found out about the VECTOR program, she applied immediately.

“The VECTOR program introduced me to research and the ethics of research. I have worked on a research project of my choosing this past semester,” she shared.

From a young age, Miranda was interested in research and factual data.

“It all started with my first trip to EPCOT in 1988. I am from a small rural town in Louisiana and the most progress at that time was the newest John Deer tractor,” she explained. “When I saw the vehicles of the future and the ride Body Wars, I was hooked. Since then, I have been in awe of progress, and the process that leads the way to progress is research and ingenuity. We do not live in a perfect world, but every step we take toward progress and the betterment of humanity is a step closer to a more equitable life.”

To Miranda, research means a better tomorrow through the research of today.

“There is an important difference between when you think you know something and when you actually know something. I knew that our poverty measurement was outdated and likely misrepresenting the number of people who live in poverty, but now I know it does and can prove it. More importantly, it could foster much-needed changes in measuring poverty. Directly, research benefits us daily, but being a part of research means actively working on a solution. For me, this is the most valuable part of the research.”

Miranda, who was recently awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship, has future plans of transferring to a few schools (Columbia University and Georgetown University), and she is already scheduled for an interview with the Eli Whitney Students Program at Yale University.

“I am eager to continue my education and research on poverty measurement in the United States. I plan to finish my undergrad and go on to graduate school,” she said.

Miranda also plans to work with Congress to ensure data from underrepresented and impoverished communities are considered and counted when policies are introduced or reformed.

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 407-582-5632.

2 Comments

  • Robert Gessner said:

    Awesome job, Miranda! So impressive. All the best to you as you pursue your dreams.

    AMWed, 18 May 2022 10:46:24 +0000Wed, 18 May 2022 10:46:24 +0000am22,10:46 am

  • April Montallana said:

    Wonderful job Miranda! Proud of all you have achieved and looking forward to what is next for you 🙂

    AMWed, 18 May 2022 11:24:04 +0000Wed, 18 May 2022 11:24:04 +0000am22,11:24 am

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