In April of 2017 I traveled to Memphis Tennessee to attend the National Council of Undergraduate Research Conference. It was an exciting and eye-opening adventure. I learned so much by attending my first ever research conference and I am grateful to have made lasting memories. Conducting and presenting research is a key step in achieving my educational and career goals. This experience gave me the confidence to push forward and made the process feel less overwhelming. Being surrounded by bright and encouraging minds made me feel like part of a group working towards a shared goal of discovery.
I was eager to meet and talk with other students involved in interdisciplinary research. A benefit to the conference was that it was exclusive to undergraduate research and no one was afraid to share what they wish they had done differently. The conversations often opened with the limitations of their studies and what they would do moving forward to improve. On occasion I would part ways after sharing contact information armed with tips on what to look out for and assimilate into my own research. There were two ways in which research was presented. The first was in poster form and the second was oral presentation. I attended quite a few oral presentations and found myself traveling between buildings often. At the poster sessions students and advisors alike circulated the presentation floor and shared ideas and information.
Planetary speakers focused on themes of social justice and scientific innovation. Among the closing speakers were Terri Lee Freeman, president of the National Civil Rights Museum and Daphene R. McFerren director of the Benjamin L Hooks Institute for Social Change. At the closing ceremony everyone in attendance was praised for representing the next generation of innovators, researchers, and, academics. We were encouraged to make ourselves aware of current-day situations and how they reflect our nation's not so distant and unsightly past. We were implored to ensure our research was representative of and in service to minority and at-risk populations. We were told to press on and that there is a need for knowledge, research, and, innovation now more than ever.
It did not matter that I was miles away from home. On several occasions, when someone read my nametag or asked which which university I was from, it was made clear that Rutgers University is held in high esteem and recognized as leading research institution. My sincerest thanks and gratitude goes out to TRIO for supporting me and making this experience possible for me. It is with your support, guidance and encouragement that I will continue to strive and reach my potential. Now onto the the next adventure!