Tuesday, October 5, 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.
Valencia College student Shaelyn Taylor became interested in conducting research as an undergraduate student after participating in Valencia College’s Undergraduate Research Summer Series, in which students heard from experts in their fields about how students can get the most out of their undergraduate research experience. After this event, she met with Melonie Sexton, professor, psychology, and coordinator of undergraduate research.
“She [Melonie] insisted that with my educational goal, I get my feet wet and see how I like research by taking an Intro to Research Process course,” Shaelyn explained. “Shortly after the course, I moved on and conducted my research project with a research mentor.”
That mentor was Diane Thompson, professor, psychology.
Shaelyn’s research focused on the effects of COVID-19 on college faculty members, with an emphasis on mental health.
“During the pandemic, there were many journals or articles written on how students are affected by the pandemic, but very few were published looking into how faculty members were handling the pandemic,” she explained.
Shaelyn sought to answer how faculty members are adjusting to working from home and, what are institutions doing to make sure their employees are receiving enough support?
One of the research methods she used was an online anonymous survey sent to 1,600 full- and part-time Valencia College faculty members, and she received 483 responses.
View her presentation about the results below:
“Getting into research has given me ample opportunities to network, further myself educationally speaking, and given me the opportunity to understand issues and increase public awareness at the same time,” Shaelyn said. “Enrolling in the Undergraduate Research Track within Seneff Honors College has given me all of the steps to build a solid foundation to not only grow as a student in this research program but to continue and produce more research projects in the future.”
And she will have the opportunity to conduct more research, as she plans to transition to the Honors Program at the University of Central Florida to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in psychology. She plans to take the MCAT to attend medical school to become an obstetrics-gynecologist.
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.