On Thursday, October 1st, six panelists came together on Zoom to share their personal academic and creative journey. This discussion, moderated by Shinnyo fellow Sydney Cheung, ranged from various topics such as finding a mentor to balancing research and school life to applying to scholarships and fellowships, and more. 

The six panelists included Vidal Arroyo, Jessica Bochinski, Kayley Cho, Vivian Luong, Nicole Saito, and Leana Sottile— all of which had unique research topics. For example, both Jessica and Leana exemplified how research isn’t necessarily attributed to the sciences, but can have a focus in the arts or creative activity. 

“There was someone in my year who created a gumball machine of poetry and instead of shooting out gumballs, it shot out little strips of poems. In other years, I saw that someone made a sculpture to talk about pollution. There is a lot of work conceptualizing that sculpture, or whatever it is that they’re creating. So there’s not really a limit to what can be involved in creative activity, as long as you can make the case you’re having to do some sort of research— that would be considered creative activity,” Jessica explains.

Like Jessica and Leana, Nicole emphasizes that research is not only limited to certain topics, and can be a way to combine your personal interests and background. “It’s really an empowering experience, specifically for me. I’m from Hawaii and in Hawaii right now. Japanese-American relations with Native Hawaiians isn’t really a mainstream historical or political topic. It was definitely something I realized I would have to take on my own…and the history department was very supportive of me,” she commented. 

When asked about balancing research with schoolwork and personal life, Vivian responded with having to set boundaries and saying no to opportunities that did not serve her true interests. She also elaborated to say her research and other involvements have been a two-way street, which have helped congruently. “Those presentation skills I learned as a chemistry supplemental instructor (SI) helped me to present my research at conferences.” 

Getting involved in research or creative activity can seem intimidating, but there’s no set of rules you have to follow. Kayley expressed that she didn’t expect to get started on research so early during her freshman year, but found interest in researching cancer during the faculty research expo, which is taking place again this Thursday, October 15 from 4pm-6pm. She noted that she hadn’t taken organic chemistry yet and was worried on how this might affect her research opportunities, but luckily her faculty mentor was extremely supportive and offered to teach her from the bottom up. Leana started her research journey when she was writing her history department thesis on war and musical theater, and later realized there was a gap in this area of research. She was then awarded the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) this past summer and is continuing her research into her graduate program. 

Vidal, joining in from England, reflected on applying to many fellowships and scholarships after being awarded the Rhodes Scholarship—the first at Chapman to receive it. “The point of applying for scholarships is not to get the scholarships…but I really think it’s the process that is the prize and not the prize itself. If you can’t write a strong reason to do something, you probably don’t have a strong reason to do something,” he said. He advises students to simply follow their passions, with a love for the research they’re doing and to come curious with questions.

Missed watching the undergraduate research and creative activity virtual panel? Click the link here on the CUE webpage to watch the recording! Interested in applying for scholarship and grant opportunities? Follow our Facebook page and Instagram for more updates and announcements, or email us at cue@chapman.edu with any questions.