Wrap It Up

URAD was a great experience. It was not as intimidating as I had thought it would be so that was relieving. The highlight of my day was seeing the founder of the Huskies Student Food Pantry and how happy she was to see my results.

For future research rookies, my biggest piece of advice is to go all in. Put forth all of your effort and make sure you are passionate about your project!

My project taught me how to go about research, but more importantly, it showed me how valuable research is to our world and community and I think everyone should have their own research experience.

Making Progress

My survey has been out for three weeks now. I hope to reach 1,000 responses by March 31st which is the day the survey will close. Once I evaluate the responses, my research will be complete. I have began to put together everything that does not require the numbers from the survey so I think that will make things easier once I have all of the data organized and ready.

Considering my idea of what research was and my idea of what it is now, has not made a huge difference. I think the biggest thing I have learned is how to go about the entire process and which methods will be most effective. Being involved in Research Rookies made this process much easier and helped guide me by showing me my options. It also helped me with my time management. I think I am much better prepared for my next three years of college with a research project under my belt and all of the skills that came along with it. This has been a wonderful experience and I have no doubt that the skills I have learned from Research Rookies will contribute to my future.

The Perks of Having a Faculty Mentor

There are many benefits to having a faculty mentor but I think at first I had a lot of difficulty with trying to figure out how I could give back. Dennis helps me daily by introducing me to new people and surrounding me with a network of professionals that can help me with my research project but this caused me to to worry about how I would be able to repay him. But recently, as my project began to show results, I realized that is how I give back. Following through with my research is the best thing I can do to show him that I appreciate all of his help. And although it is fun and interesting going off to meet new people that Dennis has introduced me to, my favorite times are still the weekly meetings because I always feel as if I walk away with a bit of wisdom. He always has a new story to share or advice to provide me with and those stories and advice mean more to me than he will ever know!

FINALLY MY TIMELINE IS BACK ON TRACK. Monday, February 22 my survey will go out to the student body. I am very excited to see what results I will be getting.

Summer is coming up closer than I thought…so I have not given it much thought. I would really enjoy doing an internship. Ideally, going overseas but if not I might consider doing one at a company in Sycamore just to get some experience in the actual business world. Other than that, I have no set plans!


IRB Approval

Throughout my research project I have had many challenges but getting IRB approval has been the largest obstacle. The IRB has been the only thing in the way of my survey so getting is approved quickly is vital. Other than that, I think narrowing down the best practice to apply to the Huskie Food Pantry is the next biggest challenge. There are clearly many ways to go about how to run the food pantry but choosing a specific one that is going to be most effective here on NIU’s campus is most important. On the other hand, after meeting several people who need the aid of Food Pantries and Food Banks, I have realized how important this project really is. Everyone has been extremely kind and thankful and knowing that you’re appreciated is the most rewarding feeling, hands down.

Introducing Research Projects

The Research Rookies Reception ran very smoothly! After our first rehearsal, I was a little worried about messing up my speech but the best advice I got was from Lauren when she told us to speak as if we are having a conversation with someone. This helped a lot because it made me realize that I really did not need to stick to my script since I am capable of explaining my project without one. After the actual presentation, Dennis was very reassuring reminding me that no one else knew what I was supposed to say so even if I messed up it was okay!

I think my favorite part of the reception was listening to everyone else speak about their project. It really is amazing to realize the variety of research that is being done. I am excited to see the results of everyone’s research!

I am looking forward for next semester and hope to get involved in more clubs such as CAUSE, since I do not have a night class! I am also happy to continue volunteering at the Huskie Food Pantry and become a much more consistent volunteer because I will have less conflicts with my schedule!

Proposal Process

Writing my first research proposal ever was not as difficult as I had intended it to be. I had the most trouble with trying to explain the surveys I am going to use because I was not completely sure if I was going to write my own, or use ones that have already been validated.

Dennis is an awesome mentor, he has opened up many opportunities for me that have benefitted my project tremendously. From his own personal advice, to the people he has introduced me to, I could not be more thankful for all of the help I have received.

As this project continues, I am trying to take it one step at a time. With a project like this that pertains to people in need, it is difficult to not look ahead but I know that I need to handle the process one step at a time. I am eager to help this cause but right now I need to focus on understanding exactly what the need is here on campus so I am excited to see the results of my surveys!

The search for a topic

As I continued to discuss a way I could help people with the research I conduct, hunger was a reoccurring theme. Coincidentally, the CEO of the Northern Illinois Food Bank was scheduled to meet with a few business classes and I was fortunate enough to be introduced to her by Dennis. I sat down with her and the nutritionist from the Illinois Food Bank and we discussed two possible topics: Diabetes Outreach Program and a Community Needs Assessment. Choosing between these two was a difficult decision. A part of me wanted to do diabetes research because it was an area I did not have a lot of knowledge in. The other half of me really wanted to help out the people who are living in my town because why not improve my own community? After digging in deeper into both topics, I have decided to do a community needs assessment of DeKalb, IL focusing on food availability. I have yet to begin writing my proposal.

The Search for a Mentor

Being a true rookie to the research program I was very nervous about finding the right mentor for me. Initially, I thought to stay in my comfort zone and choose someone I know, (Dr. Aurand), but after hearing about Dennis Barsema and being encouraged by one of my professors to pursue him as a mentor, I had no intent to do so. Of course Dr. Aurand was a great option along with Professor Mooney but after meeting with Professor Barsema I knew I had made the made the right choice.

As I am currently an undeclared business major, I expressed to Barsema my passion for people and how I want to help. He introduced me to social entrepreneurship and had me sold.   Without Research Rookies I possibly would not be heading down the path I am about to embark on and that would be much more than disappointing to me. I am extremely excited to take on this research project and I cannot wait to see what I have to discover.

Entering College

My name is Jenee Carlson and I am a freshman, business major here at Northern Illinois University. I am involved in an organization called CAUSE and clearly I am involved in Research Rookies. As I finished my first week of college, I was much more relaxed than I had expected. All of my professors were extremely nice and helpful which was a pleasant surprise. Being an undeclared business major, I have a wide range of options in which I can take my career but I hope to run a business that can make an impact on society in a positive manner. Considering that, I am interested in researching any project that would allow me to assist or help people in any way and see if I get positive results. I hope that after this program I am more aware of my strengths, weaknesses, and a career path that I would like to pursue. I believe that with the assistance of my peer mentor and my peer group, I will be able to make a reasonable decision on what I choose to research.