Last week I had a mid-college crisis and came to a panic:
“Oh my god I owe that much in loans?”
“What am I doing with my life?”
“What am I going to do after college?”
“What if I don’t do this or that and end up doing nothing”
“What if I can’t get a job”
After trying to discuss my feelings with my roommate she asked, “dude why are you worrying about this right now, we still have two years?”
That’s what I do. I think about the future, stress over it, and try to devise a plan to get prepared.
While in the midst of my planning I started thinking about how much I’ve grown since high school and how much I’ve accomplished in this semester alone.
I took 18 credit hours
wrote 42 papers
got straight A’s
conducted undergraduate research
participated in Undergraduate Research & Artistry Day and the Sociology Symposium
got accepted into the honors program
got accepted to present my research at a conference in Atlanta
and got a job for the summer as Dr. Miller’s undergraduate research assistant.
In high school I wouldn’t have even dreamed of doing any of that. I screwed around and didn’t care about school.
If I can change this much in two years and become this person, I’m excited to see the next two years have in store for me.
Today I met with my mentor, Dr. Miller. We ran the final analysis so I could complete my poster. It went great with only a few hiccups.
I came home from class and worked on my poster for three and a half hours. Then I sent it to him to be proof-read and finalized.
…. Then it happened….
The email that changed my life forever….
I haven’t looked at the new poster. I have one request for you first , and its going to mean you change everything. I think the issue of collinearity is a big enough DDR 2 vars that we need to choose 1 and drop the other from the analysis.
The 2 vars are budget and officer rate. Pick either one of these (I prefer to keep Budget) drop the other from the syntax file and run the entire analysis again.”
I ran the analysis but, this means that sleeping and I won’t be reuniting anytime soon.
So I’m up right now working on my poster for Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day and it’s safe to say I’m a little more then stressed out about it. Between this poster, exams, and papers I have to write I’m swamped with work. I didn’t even get to enjoy my spring break because I had so many papers to write. I also decided I’m going to be taking summer school this year which means I won’t have an actual break until June… then back to summer school session 2… then back to school in the fall. I get all my work done. I’ve never missed an assignment and today I received my first “c” on an exam this semester.
So far this semester I’ve written 27 papers. I’m taking 16 credit hours. 6 classes, 5 a’s and one b (thanks to my c on that test). I’ve managed to do well with this research project thus far and will continue it over the summer to present it at a conference in the fall. I also hope that the paper I’ll be presenting will get published. I also was awarded a scholarship through NIU. Yeah, that sounds like a lot but, I’m still not satisfied.
I’ve also come to realize that I am extremely hard on myself. I complete all this and it still isn’t enough for me and that’s really sad. I work tirelessly and put an excessive amount of effort into all I do and I’ll never be satisfied with what I’ve accomplished. I can’t even look back at what I’ve done and feel satisfied because the future still demands I do more.
I get my work ethic from my dad. He didn’t get to go to college or finish high school. He has worked hard his whole life though. Every job he has had he has worked tirelessly to be successful and beat workplace records. We also share the fact that we’ll never feel fulfilled in all that we’ve done.
Honestly, one of my dreams is to be able to look back at myself down the line and just feel satisfied with the job I’ve done.
This semester I decided to be bold and take 18 Credit hours.
The bad news….
I have so much homework over break!
The good news….
Much to everyone’s surprise I’ve been doing really great.
I’ve written approximately 20 papers this semester so far and I’ve worked on this research project with much success.
As of right now I have straight A’s.
This is a Valentine I found on Tumblr.
It made me happy because there are other people out there that are crazy about sociology.
Crazy enough to make a Valentine out of Emile Durkheim’s theory.
Currently I am in the process of running my first preliminary analysis using the SPSS Sociological software. We recently merged the data and have so far created two different statistics to compare the variables. The first statistic we created involved comparing Part One arrests, the arrests for more serious crimes, to drug arrests. We also went through the process of taking out some of the data that was unnecessary, such as the state police departments. We decided to remove these departments because their jurisdictions conflict with the sheriffs and local police departments. State departments also have greater resources and to compare state departments to local departments would not help me in what I am trying to prove.
If I had to describe the benefits of working with a faculty mentor I would first mention how much I have learned. Dr. Miller has taught me so much about sociology, statistics, and the research process. He has also opened my eyes to some of the different possibilities in the field of sociology. Another highlight is having his dedication to the field inspire me. Dr. Miller also showed me an REU opportunity that I will be applying for. He not only encouraged me to apply for it but is going to be writing my letter of recommendation.
Yesterday I was rejected from NCUR. Initially I was upset, but after talking to Dr. Miller I realized that rejection is part of the research process and I should use that to motivate my future endeavors.
With that being said, Dr. Miller found out about an REU opportunity and sent it too me and I am in the process of applying.
Another opportunity stemmed from me discussing my research with Dr. Ezell. He told me that he really wants to see my project at a different research day run through NIU’s sociology department. He even joked that it was another requirement for his class.
NIU may not be known for its sociology program, but it has some of the most personable and supportive staff I’ve ever come to know. I appreciate the way they want to see their students succeed inside and outside of the class room.
Overall I would say I am really glad I joined the Research Rookies program. If someone would have asked me if I thought I’d be doing research as an undergrad I don’t think I would have said yes. Up until Research Rookies research scared me to say the least. I used to cringe at the thought of research in high school and that was just gathering articles and writing papers. In my Foundations of Sociology I conducted a miniature research project. I knew being a sociologist I was going to have to do research so I figured I wanted to get a head start on understanding what research was like in my field. Research Rookies not only provided me with an opportunity to do just that, but it provided me with an opportunity to build a liking for research. I have been honored to meet and work with Doctor Miller throughout this project. I have been able to grow as a writer and hopefully continue to grow. While those are just some of the benefits I have been blessed with I will continue to be rewarded by gaining knowledge of the analyzing and writing process in my field of study. Hopefully my research will be published in a scholarly journal and I will be able to present at sociological conferences.
On the downside…
In the beginning I was fearful of my writing abilities and the standards Doctor Miller and the rest of the sociology department has. They are all very professional intelligent people and present themselves as such. This can be VERY intimidating. However, I am facing that fear and trying to grow to be able to write at their level. Another challenge I am in the process of overcoming is being rejected from NCUR. Both Doctor Miller and I thought my abstract was well written and definitely worthy of being able to present at that event. We both decided from now on I would focus on sociological conferences where my research will be accepted and welcomed by the people that care about those subjects.
Another challenge I face semi-unrelated to the research rookies program is the dispute people seem to have when I discuss my major with them. The other day someone asked me what my major was and I told them sociology. They then followed up with “oh what do you want to do with that?” I then explained. People have this common misconception that sociologists don’t and can’t get jobs for some reason. Yes, the field is competitive. Yes, it is a challenge. But I still believe if you are determined enough to make the effort to network, do activities, and take chances you can do exactly what you want to do. I don’t go around giving other people issues about potential job outlook or other issues in the economy that effect job growth. Why do people have to do it to me?
Sociologists are some of the best critical thinkers, educated people, and they make some of the most important contributions to society. For them to be taken for granted in the fashion they are makes me very angry.
This is a screen cap of my proposal after Dr. Miller was done reading it.
Okay, So although you can’t see it very well. This is my FIFTH rough draft of my proposal. I sent it to Dr. Miller last night so he could take another look at it before I submit it on Friday. This is Although it looks very intimidating, and sort of is, I’m learning a lot from it. This lesson is very important for me because this is one of the larger components of a career in sociology. Scholarly writing is really important in this field. Having the opportunity to begin learning what this is all about is really beneficial to my career and even sort of exciting.
I also feel very fortunate for having people in my life that are willing to take the time to help me proof read my work.
Today when I was working on my proposal at the library, getting it ready for my meeting with Dr. Miller tomorrow, I thought to myself:
“Wow, I can’t wait to analyze the statistics for this and see how it turns out”
It was at that very moment I became a true sociologist. Maybe it was the excitement of the proposal finally coming together, or maybe it was me figuring out I was finally going to find a use for STAT 208, It even could be that I was excited to learn something new. Whatever it was I’m very glad it happened.
The energy and excitement I felt while I was writing my proposal was the inspiration I have needed for a long time.
It has finally set in that this research is mine.