Looking back to last year, I was both nervous and excited to make a poster. What should I put on? Which graph should I use? How can I make it easier to read? Why should I put this sentence instead of this? Where should I put my diagrams? When should I start practicing my poster presentation? This year, it was less nervous, and more excitement. Compared to last year when I was suffering due to the amount of material I can put, I am happy to select the material out of gigantic data set. There are so many graphs and charts that I would like to include in my poster, in a limited space. Therefore, I had to say goodbye to some of my graph, it was a sad moment. “But don’t worry, you will have a chance for oral presentation” I said, to my excel spreadsheet. My next step as an undergraduate is to continue my research, but in a different institution. I will be joining a research group in other university, and possibly having a collaboration. Since my research was only conducted at NIU, having an experience in different institution with different group of professionals would provide me an amazing insight. I cannot wait for the summer to come, but I cannot stand for the Research Rookies to end at the same time.
Speaking of Research Rookies, let me give you my final reflection. In terms of time management, it was indeed a challenging academic year due to the amount of organization, programs and extracurricular that I am involved in. However, I enjoyed it. I liked the moment when I saw that all of my error analysis for the data was wrong. I laughed at the moment when my mentee shoot ball 8 in the hall at the first break. I appreciated when I saw my mentor fixed my poster despite his busyness. I relish the time of spending 8 hours straight looking at the data and realized it was already 2 in the morning. Without Research Rookies, I would not be able to get involved this much, interact with amazing people, and take a leadership role in variety of fields.
I would like to extend my appreciation to many people. First one are my mentees. Despite my unprofessional attitude (i.e. late to a mentee group meeting,) not-helpful mentoring (i.e. forget to ask about how they are doing in their research during the group meeting because I was too fascinated to their weekend story,) and immature actions (i.e. got too excited during the walleyball and could not stand losing to somebody, and same for my mentee, and it got chaotic) they were almost always present for my group meeting, asked me questions, used me as a resource, and showed warm attitude during the conversation. I certainly cannot say I am a great mentor, but I can definitely say they are the amazing mentees.
Next is the Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning. Without their dedication and contribution to help students to have successful careers, I could not be here. I would especially thank Lauren Anglin for her amazing work, such as performing a full time job as a part time worker, at the same time balancing with organization, programs and class. She always understand that peer mentors are somewhat busy people (compared to her, I am not even close to busy) and make the meeting to a manageable length. Thank you OSEEL, and Lauren!
Last but not least, I would like to say thank you to my mentor, Dr. Michael Eads for his help. He is always extremely responsive to my email, flexible when I had not enough work done, caring to help my poster, and inspirational for me. Because his job, I even changed my career goal from a high school physics major to a physics professor with continuing my Physics Education Research. I cannot count how many recommendation letter he wrote for my applications, and how many email I sent him to ask question, forward email, and seeking for help. He also provided me the summer research opportunity at different institution. There’s not so much things I can show an appreciation to him, so I would like to say thank you, and present my work at URAD to show how much I have done.
Since I am still a sophomore, it is difficult to imagine my future, but I will certainly attend graduate school with Ph.D. in physics education. I am interested in Colorado Boulder university that has the best physics education research program among the nation, and some other universities such as Main, Maryland, Washington, and Arizona State. My dream job was used to be a high school physics teacher, but now it is a physics professor. (When I was a kid, I was also interested in to become a president of the school, but I realized that I like to teach rather than regulate the school) Research Rookies has definitely prepared me for my dream, because having four years of experience in research as an undergraduate is an advantage for me when I apply for college. In addition, having connection with so many motivated student gave me an even more opportunities. Overall, research rookies was, is and will be an amazing program, and I am happy to support in the future to give back.
Thank you for reading!