Expanding Horizons with Diverse Research Studies from Graduate Students

By Amanda Joerndt

The graduate studies program held its 5th annual Diversity of Scholarships event on Nov. 15, allowing graduate students to present research studies on a broad spectrum of topics ranging from mental health issues to funding Ohio’s public schools.

The graduate students worked with an adviser to present their scholarly research to a room full of professors, students and community members.

The event started as an idea by Sylvia Imler, retired associate vice president for Multicultural Affairs at Youngstown State University, who sent out a request to provide a program for diversity on campus within academic studies.

The students sent proposals to the graduate student advisory committee, allowing the student committee to review the studies and choose who will present their research.

YSU President Jim Tressel and Interim Provost Joseph Mosca gave opening remarks at the event, putting their own perspective on the diversity through the academic studies at YSU.

Sal Sanders, dean of the College of Graduate Studies, said he enjoys hearing the diverse presentations each year and seeing what the students bring to the table.

Sanders said the graduate studies program provides students with different types of study through each department.

“It’s very different between [STEM] with doing chemistry, biology and material science, then you look into the arts areas and the students playing at the graduate level, music, paintings and sculptures,” he said.

Photos by Amanda Joerndt/The Jambar

Sanders said he wanted to show the audience how the faculty plays a role in helping the students succeed in scholarly research.

“We really want to show the connection between faculty members and students because that’s what really drives the students at the graduate level,” he said.

According to Sanders, the graduate students are diverse with their presentations each year and also within each department.

“We have over 50 programs that are at the graduate level, and they are very diverse across all the colleges,” he said. “I want the audience to see the breath of research that goes on in scholars work and to showcase the diversity amongst the presenters as well.”

One graduate student started her research through her experience in the graduate program, which gave her the opportunity to showcase her study.

Sarah Bolina, a second-year psychology student in the graduate studies program, presented her  research on “The Cycle of Poverty and Chronic Homelessness.”

Bolina is also a graduate assistant for Karen Larwin, an associate professor in the Department of Education, and started her research study with Larwin’s help.

She said the graduate studies program helped her become educated in her study, which will benefit her future career.

“Going into the field of school psychology, I was more sheltered before I started this project, and now I’m more aware of the diversity and the things that are going on,” she said. “It will make me be a better school-psychologist in the future, too.”

Bolina said she hopes people take away an awareness of homelessness and poverty, and how people subconsciously apply stereotypes.

Working on a research study with homelessness allowed Bolina to be aware of the poverty level, which she will be handling in her future career.

“Even if you work in a school, you can have kids’ parents who aren’t responsive with kids not coming to school and you will automatically start to assume things,” she said. “I want people to just be aware of the struggles people are facing and how they want to get out of the system.”

Angie Jeffries, senior coordinator of graduate administrative affairs, helps plans the event each year, and said it brings light to several different topics in a short period of time.

“It’s nice because it’s a wide range and different kinds of research happening on campus,” she said. “In an hour and a half, you can really get an idea of what’s going on.”

Jeffries said she hopes the audience will grow larger each year with more attendance from faculty and students.

“We’re hoping more people will send in proposals and start attending the event as the years go on,” she said.