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.
With this initiative underway, we share with you the success of our students’ undergraduate research through a bi-monthly series — Spotlight on Undergraduate Research.
“Research has allowed me to really learn time management and how I study and retain information,” explained student Sarah Bousfield, who recently completed undergraduate research on the Armenian genocide.
Sarah’s research project started as a semester-long assignment in her Modern Western Civilizations class, but, because of her interest in applying to graduate school and in interpreting history, she felt like she needed to dig deeper.
“Through my research for my paper, I started to notice that there were discrepancies in the information that was being distributed by modern Turkish sources and sources throughout the rest of the world,” Sarah said. “I pursued this and found a pattern of genocide denialism within the modern era in Turkey and other countries. Even in the United States, as recently as December of last year, the federal government turned down a formal recognition of the events in 1917-1918 as a genocide.”
Sarah is passionate about continued genocide denialism of the Armenian genocide.
“When I first began my research project, I entered with the idea that maybe if one person saw my research and saw what I was suggesting, that I could make a difference in the way that the Armenian genocide is handled in America,” she reflected. “To me, researching history allows for forgotten and unheard narratives to be brought to the forefront of people’s minds. Some people may think that studying history is simply regurgitating information over and over again, but, through historical analysis, we can hold our ancestors accountable for their actions and make sure that historical events like the Armenian genocide are not forgotten.”
Because of her research, Sarah now has a solid idea of how much time it takes for her to read something and truly understand it.
Additionally, “through the [Valencia College Undergraduate] Research Symposium, I have connected with other resources at other colleges and universities that have offered to help me with graduate school,” she added. “I have also been able to connect with other institutions in and around Orlando that have offered me internships and resume building opportunities.”
To nominate a student doing great undergraduate research or for questions about Valencia’s undergraduate research initiative, contact Melonie Sexton at UR@valenciacollege.edu or 407-299-5000, extension 5632.