Hi everyone! It’s Ally, the new Undergraduate Research Assistant with Mapping the Student Engagement Journey. This is my full first week working with Hailley on this project and I’m already so excited to see where it takes us. I’m senior year at University Park and the Penn State nostalgia is already setting in. This summer, I knew I wanted to do something special with my last year on campus. When I saw Hailley’s post for a Research Assistant, I knew this position and project had the exciting potential I was looking for.
My Student Engagement Journey
This position also stood out to me because of my personal student engagement journey. I graduated from a Catholic, all-girls high school with about 130 women, so Penn State was definitely an adjustment for me. Everything seemed so big and busy all the time! I’m also not from a Penn State family so campus, downtown, and Beaver Stadium were all brand new and larger-than-life. Looking back on the past three years, student engagement is definitely why Penn State went from an overwhelming unknown to my second home. Freshman year, I jumped right into engagement opportunities by joining Lion Scouts, a THON committee, and a sorority. Sophomore year, I became a Research Assistant with the Psychology Department and went on my first service trip with Alternative Breaks. Junior year, I was elected onto my sorority’s Executive Board and became a Site Leader with Alternative Breaks. Now it’s senior year and my student engagement journey is coming full-circle. I now have the opportunity to think critically about my engagement experiences. Why did I chose those specific activities? Did one activity lead me to the next? What Penn State resources helped me navigate this process?
I’m eager to reflect on my own student engagement journey, however, I’m even more excited to hear from other Penn Staters. In a few weeks, Hailley and I will interview current undergraduate students and have them map out their student engagement journey. I’m definitely looking forward to these interviews and can’t wait to learn more about the qualitative data analysis that follows. I think our findings will greatly inform Penn State leaders about how students experience engagement opportunities and what the university can do to support students along the way. I think this research could have a positive, long-term impact on Penn State’s student retention as well. After all, my connections to organizations, research, and service is what kept me at Penn State all four years. Thanks so much to Hailley and Library Learning Services for welcoming me this week. I’m so grateful to be a part of this project!
[ Gif of Tina Fey saying ‘Let’s Do This.’ via Giphy ]