At the beginning of this month, five students attended the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) at UNC’s campus in Asheville, North Carolina.
Senior humanities students Christina McIntyre, Alicia Sims, Jonathan Wolf, Elena Patton and Cassandra Baddorf each presented independent projects on different subjects at NCUR 2016.
Sims, a digital media major, presented her project called “Diversifying IT.”
“My project is exploring the need for gender and ethnic diversity in the tech industry,” Sims says. “What I am arguing is that increasing the diversity in those positions creates a better user experience that’s tailored to different kinds of people.”
She says one valuable part of NCUR was receiving feedback on her project and seeing the wide variety of research topics represented.
“As I worked on mine, I felt a little bit like I was in a vacuum or doing my own thing,” Sims explains. “Seeing the other things students here at Messiah are producing and how passionate they are about those things really inspired me and helped affirm that what I am doing is valuable.”
The students stayed in a house close to campus in the mountains of Asheville. Sims says the spotty Wifi led to group bonding at Starbucks late one night while they fine-tuned their presentations. The group even attended each other’s presentations to provide moral support.
Patton says this aspect of community was what really stood out to her about her experience at NCUR. “I think the most valuable part was just going with a group of Messiah students who find the same value in community as far as faith and academics go,” she says.
While at NCUR, Patton presented her senior capstone paper in which she used gender theory as a lens to look at George Eliot’s Middlemarch. She said she was able to network with a Shakespearean scholar who attended her presentation and also studied Middlemarch.
“I think in college you kind of develop a sense of, ‘Yeah I’m a specialist in this area of the field,’” Patton says. “Then you go to something like this, and it’s a really humbling experience. That was really put into perspective.”
Both Sims and Patton say they would not have been able to attend the conference without the help of SGA’s grant.
“I was only able to go on the trip because the school covered expenses. So I would recommend it, but if I had to pay for it myself I don’t know if I would have been able to,” Patton says.
Overall, Sims says she sees the value in attending academic conferences of this nature.
“Working in undergraduate research is a lot of work,” she says. “To take on a project like the one I did is a lot of hours; you put a lot of effort into it. Being able to present that research at a conference is really important because you’re confirmed and validated for all the work you did.”
To learn how you can obtain a grant through SGA and attend a conference in your field of study, visit the Career and Professional Development Center for more information.
Maddie Crocenzi, Editor-in-Chief
Pug lover, Christ-follower, runner and peanut butter enthusiast.