I serve as a mentor in the Summer Program for Undergraduate Researchers (SPUR) at Carnegie Mellon by supervising summer research apprenticeships of visiting undergraduate students. SPUR was created by PIER to encourage underrepresented, first-generation college, and economically disadvantaged students to pursue research careers through exposure to innovative research, experimental and statistical methods, and professional development skills that are essential to succeed in academia. When I interact with students I provide a space in which they feel connected and a sense of belonging, with the goal of heightening their self-efficacy within and outside a research setting. The support I received from prior mentors combated the negative feelings that arise from being one of few minorities in an academic setting, and I strive to do the same for others.
My faculty advisor Dr. Anna Fisher and I mentored Jonathan Epps, a Political Science major from Morehouse College. At the end of the summer research program, Jonathan presented the remarkable findings of his summer project to graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and faculty members in several CMU departments. We couldn’t be more proud of him.
We were also lucky to have Aria Tsegai-Moore, a Psychology major from Stony Brook University as a visiting CMU scholar. She presented the findings from her summer project at one of the largest conferences for underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in California. She was awarded the Top Presentation Award.