For the last of my semesters at AU (and beyond), I hope that my research experiences/projects will help to serve the communities that I most care about. I would like for my research endeavors to be important to me, as an academic, but also as a member of the Hispanic community. I know sometimes it is easy for some people to disregard research as boring or irrelevant outside of academia – but research is important because it informs many policies, programs, and decision-making that cannot be overlooked. Research can trickle down and affect the day-to-day lives of people. Based on this, I have sought out research experiences tied to public health, inequality, and immigration. Several public health and immigration phenomena – like the birth weight paradox – peak my interest and they are relevant to the health outcomes of people in the United States. In my past research, I have also learned about HIV/AIDS prevalence, needle exchange programs, and the context of fertility patterns. I’ve recently developed an interest in HPV vaccines and I’ve already incorporated this into two of my class projects for this semester. Engaging a community – whether it is healthcare providers or healthcare recipients or advocates– is a good way to expand on my research interests without allowing myself to become comfortable in the “ivory tower.” I’m mulling over several ideas that include:
-Becoming involved with a larger think tank, like Brookings or Pew Research
-Freelancing a bit: Conducting formal interviews or focus groups within the DC area
-Becoming involved in a research project with an SIS Professor (Latinas and health)
-Joining a local health clinic in Columbia Heights
In the end, my decision for this semester will be limited to what I can accomplish in the time that I have left while preparing myself for the following semester (this is when I would hopefully work at a think tank, like Brookings). I also want to take my SIS and CAS (Sociology) capstones into consideration since I would like either one or both to incorporate community involvement in the research methods. This, along with my past research, can only help me as an aspiring PhD student/candidate/future professor! These are just some things I am thinking about, but I am open to suggestions from my peers and my mentors!
-Nallely Mejia, AU ‘14