Kesi Foster trains for grad school at U. of Chicago.
My Experience Summary:
This summer I spent 8 weeks at the University of Chicago with the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. The goal of the program is for students to create a viable research question and present a proposal by the end of the summer. In addition to the independent research, we took two classes at the University, an Engaged Scholarship course and a Writing for Research course. Mellon Mays is a national fellowship and there were students from twenty different schools as well as students from other national programs all staying on campus.
The good thing about embarking on independent research is the ability to create your own schedule which left a lot of time to explore Chicago. Chicago is a great city with a lot to do and see. There was the Taste of Chicago in Millennium Park, Navy Pier on Lake Michigan, Ghana Festival, and many more events over the summer that we got the chance to experience.
Why I went:
I decided to attend the program because I saw it as a great chance to preview the kind of work I will encounter in graduate school. The Mellon Mays Fellowship is also a great opportunity to indulge my academic aspirations outside of the classroom.
What I Learned:
This summer my research project changed a number of times but I settled on exploring the reception of Miguel Pinero's play "Short Eyes". Before this summer, I didn't know the difference between the papers I have been writing for undergrad classes and an academic research paper. I left with a good foundation of how to pose a viable question, research the question, and compose the paper.
I'm going to remember everything from this summer but I think the things that are going to stand out are the people that I met and the relationships that we built. It was cool to be in an environment and share space with other people who have similar academic interests.
Advice For Others:
I would advise other students not to go into new experiences with pre-conceived notions or assumptions. Go in with an open mind and you'll get so much out of your experience.