It was a casual morning last spring when my abnormal psychology professor mentioned an opportunity for students to participate in the Miami Dade College School of Science STEM Research Program. Although I had never done any research before and did not know what it entailed, I was interested. Weeks passed, the application process took place and I got accepted. It was nerve-wracking to know I would be working with two other students and would be in charge of doing an experiment involving human participants.
Our project was based on an preliminary analysis of the performance of bilingual and monolingual students on executive functioning tasks (that is, mental skills that help people juggle between multiple tasks and get things done). I have learned a lot this past summer by going around campus recruiting people who only speak English, implementing several neuropsychological tests and questionnaires and coding and analyzing the data collected.
I discovered the wonderful field of scientific research, which aims to understand the complexity of the world. Doing research enhances your critical thinking and curiosity, as well as your communication skills.
Every student who participated in the project was required to create a poster on which all the aspects of the study were explained. I was one of the four students selected for an oral presentation at the School of Science STEM Research Symposium last September. At the symposium, I achieved one of my biggest academic accomplishments so far: I won first place for my oral presentation of our summer research.
I have grown as a student thanks to doing research. First of all, it has been a tool for exploring career possibilities. It also reaffirmed my commitment to become a clinical psychologist and earning a Ph.D. It has taught me leadership skills when it comes to developing the logistics for this research and providing guidance to my team members. Additionally, having this experience in my undergraduate journey prepares me for the work I will do in graduate school. It enables me to better grasp all the relevant literature of my field of interest, so I can pursue an issue or question in my future studies. On a more personal level, it makes me grow as a critical, independent thinker as well as an ethical individual following the necessary procedures to guarantee a successful project.
Doing research is about adding to the stock of human knowledge and impacting the world by providing answers for questions that provoke interest. It provides a deeper thinking and analysis of amazing discoveries, allowing us to better understand the world and ourselves.