HSF Scholars Taking the Lead: Ashley Rosado
Junior, University of Georgia
Fields of study: Communications, Government, and Law
Leadership program: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Political Science Research Assistant
Date: Boston, May 31, 2008 through August 3, 2008
Purpose of the program: The program allowed for undergraduate experience in academia research in a very exciting election year. I worked one-on-one with Dr. Stephen Ansolabehere, an accomplished scholar of American elections, public opinion and voting behavior, at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard (professor of government in Harvard University’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, effective July 1).
Content of the program—what kind of activities, training speakers, etc.: The content of the program included a wide array of exposure to various research methodologies, chiefly statistical analysis with theoretical structure. The work focused on studying campaigns, voting behavior and congressional elections. The research I conducted was then used in conjunction with previous and ongoing studies as a resource for future projects and publications.
What did you learn and how did you benefit from this opportunity? The nine-week program was crucial to my undergraduate experience. The University of Georgia is a large public institution located sixty miles northeast of downtown Atlanta. The main campus is on 615 acres and has an undergraduate enrollment of 25,144. Georgia’s flagship institution of higher education assumes a direct responsibility to the state’s intellectual development and citizenry. By contrast, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is independent and privately endowed. It is located on 168 acres along the Cambridge side of the Charles River Basin and has an undergraduate enrollment of 4,172. MIT’s mission is targeted to a national and worldwide audience with teaching and research as the guiding principle. An undergraduate research opportunity at a world-class educational institution offers an environment fit only to cultivate and enrich inquiring minds. The faculty, staff and students posses life experiences that are truly mind blowing. Each has an immense amount of insight to offer, as they are truly immersed in academia. An opportunity such as this allows for a hands on and strategic approach to learning. I was given the tools to develop a hunger for not only knowledge, but forthcoming knowledge…to not only learn what had been done, but to do something innovative and new…to not only be the best in my class or state, but to lead the nation and the world. This incredible opportunity did not come without challenges, both personal and comprehensive. Adjusting to a new and urban environment tested my ability to alter my comfortable routine. Taking each small and large failure as part of the experience required adaptations in my attitude. I learned the importance of attacking problems with acceptance that it will require endurance and patience. Most importantly, however, there is not always a definitive right or wrong answer and more often then not there is no “answer” at all, merely your claim and the evidence that you become passionate about. Academia is frustrating and rewarding…truly a paradox that changed my life.
Do you recommend the program to other Latino students? I would completely recommend an opportunity like this one to other Latino students, as it would be beneficial for researchers to gain an alternative perspective in political ideologies of a traditionally unrepresented or misrepresented powerful cohort of the population. Moreover, Latino students can find a passion for problem solving by immersing themselves into an educational research project. Being a part of the solution is crucial to Latino students who will be imminent in leading the expanding Latino community and serving as vital resource to public officials.
Do you have any plans to participate in another leadership opportunity? I plan to survey research done in my field of interest at UGA as well as follow the data and analysis I developed into its various publications this fall. Participating in both Dr. Ansolabehere’s and fellow colleagues’ upcoming projects is definitely something that I have considered and will pursue throughout the academic year.
Do you have any advice you would give current Latino students? Be proactive. Resources in the Latino community are not readily accessible, but absolutely available. Find something that drives you now and inquire with anyone in your network about opportunities to advance in your field of interest.
The statistics on the campus and enrollments of both institutions can be found at their respective websites.