Social Work Students Engage in Summer Research

In this Q&A, read about a summer research project involving two social work majors.

Connecting Communities

Elizabeth Leon, ’18
Dielle McMillan, ’17
Faculty mentor: Joy Learman, assistant professor of social work

What is your summer research project?

(DM) We are conducting an asset based community development plan for the Latino Community in Raleigh, N.C., by researching community members and key stakeholders regarding the strengths in the Latino community and areas where resources are needed.

What do you hope to accomplish? 

(DM) We hope to gain more knowledge about the Latino community in Raleigh and how Meredith College can build a relationship with the community by using their strengths to assist them in gaining valuable resources.

(EL) I hope that our team creates a welcoming environment with the local Latino community, because I wish for the community to feel comfortable when we interview them. This is very important because everything they say will be valuable. I hope that my partner I gain valuable skills from this project and are able to us them in the future.

Why did you decide to pursue a summer research project? 

(EL) I am a proud first generation Latina at Meredith College, and when I was presented the opportunity to do summer research with a Latino community there was no questioning it. I was raised for a couple of years in Mexico and came back for high school. While in high school my parents were not able to help me much about deciding what I wanted to do. I had no idea about many of the programs available, but I found a mentor and she helped me realize college was an option. That was when I knew that I wanted to work with the Latino community and pay it forward. By working on this research project I will learn more about the Latino community in Raleigh and learn how to conduct a research project that will support my path to graduate school.

(DM) I pursued a research project to gain an understanding of a different area of social work. I also wanted to learn how to conduct a research project so that I am a competitive graduate school applicant.

What is your favorite part of the experience? 

(DM) I love interviewing the key community stakeholders to gain their perspective on how they would challenge some of the issues within the Latino Community in Raleigh. So far, I have spoken with the Director of the Hispanic Family Center in Raleigh and the Director of the Immigrant and Rights Project from the NC Justice Center. They were both strong leaders and gave a valuable information.

(EL) I really enjoy being able to help my group translate. I am so grateful of being bilingual and being able to assist others when needed. I also love that my partner and I are mentoring two young ladies who are attending Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy. This is a great opportunity for them to see what undergrad research consists of.  They will enhance the skills they have while we work on this research project and create new ones.

Why do you think summer research is important for Meredith students?

(EL) Summer research allows students like me to apply their existing knowledge and use hands on practice. Students gain new experiences and this opportunity may open new doors for them in the future. Students are assisted by professors and mentors throughout the summer research and work as a team to accomplish their main goals.

(DM) Summer Research allows us to focus into an idea and explore many different possibilities to find solutions. I’ve gained skills in networking, presentation, interviewing, and analysis. I’m very grateful for the undergraduate research program here at Meredith!

Melyssa Allen

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