CGL provided support for award-winning doctoral student

Public Policy doctoral student Ada Uche recently received a 2014-15 American Educational Research Association (AREA) Minority Dissertation Fellowship in Educational Research. As part of the writing process, Uche utilized resources provided by UNC Charlotte’s Center for Graduate Life (CGL).

“I am certainly someone who has made the decision to take advantage of the resources offered by CGL,” explained Uche. “I carefully scan the GradEvents Weekly to figure out if there is a workshop or a program being offered that would be useful to me. Then, I mark my calendar to attend those programs.”

Uche met CGL faculty associate Lisa Russell-Pinson at one event. An applied linguist with a specialty in research-based academic writing, Russell-Pinson is the center’s graduate writing faculty associate.

“Some of the students that attended the workshop were graduate students for whom English was a second language,” Uche said. “She attended to each of participant with a lot of care, but also regard for what each one was working on. She informed us that she would be happy to assist anyone who might need one-on-one help with writing in the future. Therefore when I started writing the grant proposal, I wrote to her and made an appointment.”

According to Russell-Pinson, “Ada is a very strong academic writer and had all of the content for the grant proposal in great shape before I saw her. I only helped her tighten up and polish an already solid document.”

For Uche, “Dr. Lisa” provided a caring, nurturing support of her ability and desire to write a grant proposal.

“Dr. Russell-Pinson helped in building my confidence in my own writing abilities,” explained Uche. “She told me how impressed she was with what I had done so far. Even before recommending edits for the draft, she told me areas where she thought that I had done a good job. This was gratifying and just hearing it verbally was encouraging.”

As her dissertation year drew closer, Uche began to search for fellowships that she might qualify for in the hope of educating herself about the grant writing process. The topic of her winning proposal stemmed from her own life experiences.

“I am a first generation college student who started in the STEM area in high school, but due to tough situation at home, I decided to change to a social science major,” she said. “Therefore, some of the experiences I describe in my research are ones that I have experienced myself.”

Uche’s research centers on education policy, retention, graduation and STEM research. Her dissertation title is “The Retention Of First Generation College Students In Stem: A Revision And Analysis Of Tinto’s Longitudinal Model.”

Uche’s advisor is Roslyn Mickelson, with committee members Alan Mabe, Stephanie Moller, Beth Whitaker and Elizabeth Stearns.

AERA awards a one-year s stipend of $19,000 plus up to $1,000 in travel for recipients to attend its annual meeting. Founded in 1916, the AERA has as its mission “to improve the educational process through scholarly inquiry and to promote the practical application of scholars’ research results.”

Uche, who plans to graduate in spring 2015, was one of three recipients nationwide.

After successfully defending her dissertation proposal, Uche plans to spend the next year broadening her tool kit as a scholar and researcher.

“I intend to make this a year of learning and growth,” stated Uche. “I currently use SAS and Stata statistical tools but intend to learn additional statistical software. My goal is that by the time I get to the AERA annual meeting, I will have become a well-rounded scholar, with some publications under my belt. I intend to use this opportunity to make myself very marketable for a career in research and teaching.”