Four SESP Students Receive Summer Research Grants

Four SESP Students Receive Summer Research Grants

Cara Conway

Cara Conway, Halimah Jones, Stacy Kim and Caroline Levy were recently awarded Summer Undergraduate Research Grants for 2015. Their research spans topics from school closures to volunteering to life narratives.

Cara Conway
A social policy major, Conway is doing research this summer on “Comparing School Closures in Chicago.” Her faculty sponsor is Mary Deeley of the Sheil Catholic Center
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Conway says, "Catholic and public schools in Chicago face a variety of challenges, and while some of these challenges differ, both school systems have had to close numerous schools over the years. I am interested in pursuing research about how these closures happen, what the effects are on families and communities, and what can be learned from the different systematic approaches."

Halimah Jones

Halimah Jones
This summer Halimah Jones will be conducting research on “Analysis of Problems in Agency/Communion” by coding life narratives for negative agency and communion. A human development and psychological services major, she will be working with her faculty sponsor, SESP professor Dan McAdams, who is well-known for his life-story theory of human identity that maintains that modern adults find unity and purpose in constructing self-defining life stories.

“It is important to understand that the ways in which we discuss various elements of our lives, such as high points, low points, wisdom events, and failures, will help us understand how our conceptualization of our life when discussing it with others can affect our well-being,” says Jones.

Stacy Kim

Stacy Kim
Stacy Kim, who is majoring in learning and organizational change, is pursuing a research project on “Éden: A Study of the Vila do Capão Community.” Her faculty sponsor is Shayna Silverstein in Performance Studies.

“Vila do Capão is a small village buried within the Chapada Diamantina National Park in Brazil. I stumbled upon this village last summer and was immediately drawn to its charming atmosphere. It was what most would consider an ‘alternative community,’ one that truly emphasizes community building and rejection of societal pressures. What's even more bizarre is that the residents come from all over the world to live in this community and start over with their lives."

Kim and two other Northwestern students will travel to Vila do Capão this summer to film a documentary that captures the lives of the residents. “We believe that the residents' beliefs and rationale for moving to Vila do Capão can shed some light on the underlying issues of our society today and address what it means to truly be free—the freedom to live a life that allows you to be whoever you want, without constantly feeling shame and judgment from others,” says Kim.

Caroline Levy

Caroline Levy
A learning and organizational change major, Caroline Levy will research “Volunteer Experience and Nonprofit Events” this summer. Her faculty sponsor is SESP professor Reed Stevens.

“I am passionate about creating positive volunteer experiences and understanding the effectiveness of various leadership techniques, so studying the intersection of those two topics in the context of a nonprofit event planning process is very exciting to me,” says Levy. “Many nonprofits use events to further their missions, and volunteers are often crucial to the execution of these events.”

Levy will be researching nonprofit organizations in Boston to better understand the volunteer experience during organizations' event planning processes. “I will be investigating how volunteer management influences the volunteer experience in event planning, building from observed interactions and volunteers’ reported perceptions of staff members leading them,” she adds.

Northwestern University’s Office of Undergraduate Research offers Summer Undergraduate Research Grants of $3,000, along with academic-year grants of up to $1,000. The grants fund research expenses to do an independent academic or creative project connected to an independent study or thesis seminar.

Students will find information for applying for undergraduate research grants on the Office of Undergraduate Research website.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/19/15