Undergrad Research Reflection

Research Reflection

The research that I have completed has been three months in the making- I got a bit of a late start in comparison to most of the other research fellows, as I spent last semester abroad. Returning and placing all of my work in this semester meant working faster, under tighter deadlines, and learning things on the fly as I worked to compose a comprehensive research paper. Over these three months, I have been able to research and put together a full report on the experiences of transgender students in higher education. Within these findings, I include reviews on implications of transgender students’ mental health needs, preferred names and their importance in the systems of higher education, suggestions of Greek life and their impacts on the transgender community, negative coping mechanisms more commonly found within the community, and a deep review on housing policy within a number of universities.

Participating in my first research experience has deeply influenced my abilities as a student this semester, and likely for the future as well. I have never engaged in research at a level such as this, and having this experience has broadened my research abilities as well as my abilities to formulate a comprehensive paper of this length and quality. I have, of course, written many papers in my time as a student, but delving into APA, literature reviews, and research at this level was a first-time experience for myself- for that, I am beyond grateful. It is an experience I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity for. I have learned from this experience a number of highly valuable skills that I will be able to use throughout my career, I have learned valuable information about transgender students and their experiences in higher education in relation to my own experience in higher education as a transgender individual, and I find that I have accomplished something I didn’t think I would be able to accomplish in my university timeline.

Some skills I have gained include the ability to effectively find and analyze pre-existing literature. I relied heavily on the published research of other researchers for the success of my own paper, and being able to find papers that have relevant information was significantly harder than I imagined it could be. At first, I attempted to judge based on titles whether or not pieces would be beneficial for my own piece. It took a few solid weeks of me trying and failing to incorporate pieces into my own research for me to realize that I was looking for the entirely wrong type of paper and type of information. But, once I was able to refocus and figure out what I needed, the paper became a breeze. I have read so many residential life and housing policies that I could probably spout verbatim a lot of the common policies. I also created my first APA style chart, which was an absolute pain to figure out but it made completing it that much sweeter.

But, I also gained a real understanding of the state of transgender students in higher education and residential life and housing within higher education institutions. As a transgender individual myself, I have been struggling with understanding how I fit within a university setting, and how I’m supposed to navigate most elements of residential life. I was watching my friends at Penn State, which has highly supportive policies in place for students, and wondering where my resources were and if I just happened to pick a university that wasn’t as invested in their LGBTQIA students. I’ve had many questions regarding resources, many questions as to why we don’t have the same supports in place, and many of these requests have fallen perhaps not unheard, but without action. Being able to step up and begin serving my community and helping those with similar experiences to me has been such an important step in my role as a leader on campus. I felt that things need to be done, and I sincerely hope that by doing this research perhaps my requests and recommendations will be honored. However, I don’t want this paper to be perceived as a personal list of demands- these are issues faced by most- if not all- transgender students, and we all deserve the support we need to succeed emotionally in order to guarantee our highest potential success academically.





UG Blog Post #2

As of December, I will admit I was not yet on Pace University campus. I was finishing a semester abroad, and was reaching out to my research adviser (Tyler Kalahar) to begin catching up on tasks. I was revisiting our goals and outline, and I began to look into literature to support our goal. I found it difficult to find any published work that fit well with our goal, and we had to begin to adjust our focus. Instead of focusing on transitioning to college from high school, we decided a different approach would be necessary. We decided to instead change it to the success of transgender students, and decided to focus on that. I was not yet, at this point, doing any real work on the project- we waited for the spring semester to begin before I started the actual research portion of the project.

UG Blog Post #1

Transgender Student Success in Higher Education and Implications of Housing Policy aims to address the lack of understanding surrounding transgender students in their higher education experiences. It goes beyond just their success, delving into mental health concerns, and implications set forth by housing policies. I aim to use the policies of university to see where institutions are failing their transgender students, and crossing the policies to form a set of objectives and suggestions for Pace University to consider for the community. I expect to achieve from this a greater understanding of the needs of the transgender community at large, and to be able to propose change in order to support future transgender students in their experiences in higher education, specifically at Pace University. I intend to put together a literature review based on research surrounding transgender students in the higher education community, and then to combine this with an overview of housing policies currently in place across a range of universities within in the New York area.

UG Blog Post #3

Describe and reflect on your progress so far.

So far into the research process, I feel behind. I definitely believe I should have a lot more completed based on the requirements and the timeline, but I’m trying not to be too hard on myself about it- I’m a university student, after all, and sometimes time doesn’t allow us to complete everything we want to all the time. I do, however, feel confident in my ability to complete the project on time. I have also found that the library has been very helpful in some instances, and I have found myself growing very confident in the use of online databases and distinguishing the articles that will have the most relevance to exactly what I’m studying.

Explain any challenges and/or successes you have experienced with this project.

I’ve had a few great challenges while undergoing the research process- I have had a hard time finding literature on my topic, despite hours of scouring databases. And then, of course, once I find something that might help, it’s either unattainable even with library support or I’m only able to receive previews. But, these still have a good amount of information. I have also had to struggle through the topic being immensely personal to myself, and coming across and working through triggering material has been another major setback for my research process. However, these moments remind me exactly why I’m working so hard.

Describe what you have learned from the project so far.

I’ve learned a great deal about the social standing of issues surrounding transgender students in college. There is a severe lack of research done on the topic, suggesting a lack of concern for the community at large. I am making a generalization here, but I feel it is true. There are only mentions of a few universities across the board in regards to implementation of policies and their impact on students. There is a lot of discussion surrounding mental health, so it is known that transgender students are at higher mental health risk, but there’s a lack of suggestion on how to assist students through this via university policy. I’ve learned there’s a whole lot of work to be done on this issue, and I’m eager to start seeing some changes.