New semester brings new insights

Well, I finally have a better idea of what my project is going to look like. We are using a transformative learning framework to help us conduct a content analysis of only a few Huskie Service Scholar blogs. It is going to be more like a case study, which is really exciting.

Dr. Kersh and I are going to read the blogs and do our own ratings, then we will come together and talk about what we found. It is starting to feel more like research now. And we should have the whole project done is about a month and a half or so. I went from having no clue to now being way ahead. I’ll take it!

To future research students: Don’t stress too much! Research rarely goes exactly as planned. Things always change and it is a learning process. Just do your best and go with the flow!

Winter Break -What I have been waiting for

Last semester was crazy busy. I am very excited that break finally hit because I really needed some time off. My proposal still isn’t done, so I will finally have some time to work on that.

I am really looking forward to next semester. I am finally going to be taking all business classes because I am done with all of my gen-eds. The classes that I am taking sound so interesting and fun. For example, I am taking “Managing Individuals, Groups, and Organizations”. That is exactly the kind of stuff that I am interested in learning about. I am bummed that I couldn’t fit the project management class into my schedule, but there is still time.

Looks like it is going to be a great semester, but also a really fun and relaxing winter break.

“No Idea What I am Doing” November

Proposals are due this November. I have absolutely no clue what I am doing. I know I am working with Dr. Renique Kersh, Associate Vice Provost for Engaged Learning. We would like to do a content analysis of the Huskie Service Scholar blogs. We will see where this leads.

As far as the proposal, hopefully Dr. Kersh and I will have some time to meet and discuss the project. We are going to try to get it all figured out before winter break hits.

This year is very different than last year. I knew exactly what I was doing last year and plans didn’t really change all that much. This year has been a little hectic.

Also, I am a Peer Mentor in the program. I have really enjoyed that experience. I love being to able to help people in their own research journeys, even if mine is a little rocky.

Wow time flies!

Things have been completely crazy this semester, but I am loving my role as a Research Rookie Peer Mentor. While my own research is not really going that well at the moment, I am really happy to hear that my mentees are doing well.

I would say that my biggest challenge this semester has been finding time for all the things that are important for me. I have a lot of commitments, and I am having a hard time balancing everything. Luckily, I have a great support network of students and faculty and they are helping through my challenges.

I will update you once I nail down what my next project will be!

Another Semester Begins

I can’t believe that I am already a Junior! Seriously, where does the time go? I am very excited to be participating in several OSEEL programs this year. I have been a part of Student Engagement Fund over the summer, so I am in the process of wrapping up the work that I did (a continuation of my Research Rookies project from last year). This year I am returning to Research Rookies as a Peer Mentor and I am also very excited to be a Northern Lights Ambassador (NLA).

Rachel Lapidus

My NLA photo

So far the semester has been wonderful. My Research Rookies small group has already had our first meeting at Chipotle! It was a lot of fun. Here is a picture of the group!:This is my small group for Research Rookies. Our mentor is in the center. I'm excited to be working with such great people!

Left to Right: Max, Leah, Me (Rachel), Jenee, and John

I am so excited to see how this year goes. I will keep you posted about new developments in my research! I will have some very exciting updates within the next month or so! Stay tuned!

I am Just Getting Started

I cannot believe how fast the year has whizzed by. I feel like April just started, but it is May already!

I am so relieved that Undergraduate Research & Artistry Day went so well. I was presenting that day, and also working for OSEEL to help make sure that it ran smoothly. Lauren Boddy, the URAD coordinator, did a really good job of making sure that there were very few hiccups.

I enjoyed presenting my work and also had some fun, too! Here is a picture of myself and Lauren Anglin, my friend and Research Rookies Peer Leader. I must be REALLY excited to be at URAD…

The event was a lot of fun! It was so exciting to see hundreds of posters lining the Duke Ellington Ballroom. This was a showcase of THOUSANDS of hours of work! Awesome!

Overall, my experience as a Research Rookie was more than I could ever hope for. I have learned so much, and it has been a great joy to work with Dr. Beth Towell and Jill Hayes. I am thrilled to announce that I will continue working with them on the research for the summer and fall.

My plans for the summer are to work for 30hrs/week in OSEEL and approximately 5 hrs/week on my research. I will also be taking some online classes. So I guess I won’t be busy at all.. For those of you worried for my sanity, you can relax! I plan on taking a fabulous week-long vacation in August with a bestie from Bolingbrook. No idea where we are going yet!

I am so excited about what lies ahead!

March on!

First of all, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to President Baker and First Lady Stover for hosting all of the Research Rookies and their mentors at their house! We had so much fun, the food was great, and it was really nice to just chat with everyone there! The picture up above was taken by President Baker.

I am really grateful to be a part of such an awesome group of students! This year’s Research Rookies are doing some truly amazing things (as I am sure they do every year). It has been a challenge to balance all of my extracurricular and co-curricular activities, but I feel that this program has really helped me grow.

First of all, I am especially fortunate that my project is very diverse. I am doing some “nitty gritty” statistics work with inferential and descriptive statistics, but I am also analyzing plenty of qualitative data, which is very exciting. I am also very involved in a lot of the strategic planning for the Passport Program now, which is just TONS of fun. I really enjoy everything that I am doing.

As far as the research goes, everything is pretty good! We did a preliminary analysis (using a special stats test called a T-Test) of our data and did not find anything that is significant, which is a bummer. We can run the analysis again once all of the data is collected. We also have tons of descriptive statistics and a lot of student feedback about the program, which is really important.

All in all, I’d say we are doing pretty darn awesome!

Everything is Awesome

I am very excited to report that my research is going great. As I have mentioned several times, Dr. Towell is absolutely fantastic to work with. We are getting so much accomplished and I can really see all the pieces starting to fall into place. I would have to say that my favorite thing(s) about working with Dr. Towell are twofold:

First of all, I am really glad that Dr. Towell knows I am no expert. She is always explaining things that I don’t understand and patient when there are things that I am unfamiliar with.

Secondly, sort of tying in with the first one, Dr. Towell is very straightforward, which is great. I am the type of person that likes to get feedback and I like to know what you are thinking. I think we have a great working relationship.

So great, as a matter of fact, that I may be continuing my project over the summer (AWESOME!). No matter what I am doing this summer, I know I am pretty much going to be working a full-time load. It is looking like I will be applying to work as an undergraduate researcher with Dr. Towell over the summer while maintaining about 20-25 hours at OSEEL. I am really excited about the potential this summer has.

The Train Has Left the Station…

…and it is starting to ZOOM! I cannot believe everything that we are working on. I am counting and analyzing data left and right. As I am counting data, I am also waiting for more data to arrive! And all the meanwhile I am trying to begin writing an article (YIKES)!

There are a lot of things that I am participating in that are really interesting. I am now scheduled to present to the Passport Advisory Committee, a representative group of students and faculty that will help with decision making for the Passport Program. I’d say since I am helping to evaluate the program, they might want to hear what I have found?

Overall my experience as a Research Rookie has been phenomenal. I really enjoy everyone that I am working with and I feel that I am playing a key role in making this research happen (since Passport is a required program for business students, this research had to be done eventually…) I’d say the most rewarding part of the process would have to be working with Beth Towell and all the fun that comes with working with her. She has done a really good job at including me in every facet of the project, which I really appreciate. I am attending all kinds of meetings and getting a lot of experience in the world of academia.

Here is a picture Dr. Towell and I in her office. We are obviously discussing some very serious matters 🙂 We were also pretty excited that our picture made it onto the cover of the Research Rookies Reception pamphlet!

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The research I do comes with a few challenges, the biggest being that I am very busy! It can be hard to make time for everything I do. I am the type of person that likes to do everything to the highest level of quality!! But rest assured my research is top notch!!

This experience feels very different than what I did for the McKearn program. First of all, it is a lot longer of a process. Research Rookies runs for the entire academic year, while McKearn was just 8 weeks! Also, I feel like I am really stepping it up for this project! I have a lot more responsibility and purpose, which I really enjoy.

Speaking of responsibility… I have some BIG NEWS to share:
I have just been hired as a student employee for OSEEL (Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning)! I am very excited to be working there, and hope that my work will have a lasting impact on students. I am so thrilled to be a part of such a fantastic team.

If YOU would like to learn more about OSEEL, click the ENGAGE below to visit the OSEEL homepage! You would be amazed at all the things this office does!!

The Research Rookies Reception


We are such a good looking group!! Look at us! I felt that the reception went very well. I am sure that some of my peers were quite nervous, but to be honest, I wasn’t that worried about it. OSEEL had us pretty well trained.

Every college went up and lined up in front of the stage and each student had about 30 seconds to tell everyone about their research. It looked a lot like the picture below (from the side), but the audience got to see everyone’s smiling faces.

Research Rookies gives students early start on research projects

Both my mentor and I were very honored that President Baker chose to talk about a few students in his words of introduction, me being one of them. I did not expect that! President Baker is a super fun guy!

Now that proposals are in and we made it past the reception, we are going to dive into the research. My mentor, Dr. Towell, and I have been meeting with lots of people on campus and making plans. I was very excited to finally get the chance to meet with Jill Hayes, the director of the Passport Program. I can tell that the two of us are really going to get along (which is great because I bet we will be working together a lot!!)

I feel so fortunate to have all these opportunities. I am trying to take advantage of anything that comes my way and I am also striving to seek out my own opportunities. Thank you to all the people at NIU that are on my team and backing me up. Go Huskies!!