Senior has first EURECA experience

Herbert McCullough

During my senior year, I have had the privilege of being a part of Enhancing Undergraduate Research Endeavors and Creative Activities program and presenting my project at the fall 2017 Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Forum. I must admit, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my academic career.

I participated in an EURECA project with Natalia Zamora, political science and global studies senior, which was a comparative case study about the Syrian and Northern Triangle of Central America displacement crises regarding gender-based violence in transit states. Zamora focused on the Northern Triangle migrant crisis while I focused on the Syrian refugee crisis. As one of the few political science majors, I was honored to represent the political science department alongside Zamora and our faculty mentor and Associate Professor of Political Science Linda Veazey.

Working with Zamora was a pleasant experience. She taught me the importance of being organized and professional. While I provided the decorations for our EURECA project, Zamora laid the foundation.

One of my least favorite parts of EURECA was the creative inquiry class we were expected to take. I have taken a political science research methods course and lessons between the classes contradicted each other. This has a lot to do with social science majors being underrepresented in EURECA. I also disliked was how much information we had to leave out in order to conserve time. I wanted to talk about the different laws in both Turkey and Lebanon that make women and girls vulnerable to gender-based violence, but all the information we have gather would have taken an entire semester to go through, and we just simply didn’t have that amount of time.

However, my favorite experience with the project was learning about the status of refugees in Lebanon. Since Lebanon has not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention, many Syrian refugees are subject to deportation. This also makes it impossible for women and girls to report cases of gender-based violence, and many women and girls from Central America take contraceptives, knowing that there is a possibility that they will be raped when navigating through Mexico.

When conducting an oral presentation at the forum, I felt extremely nervous. I presented to a crowd of about 15 students, as well as a moderator and two judges; however, it was much easier since Zamora made me practice the presentation three days in advance.

Participating in the Undergraduate Research and Creativity Activity Forum and EURECA as a whole was a fun experience. I have gained the ability of organizing, networking, public speaking and how-to presentation skills. I would highly recommend EURECA for any student — but make sure to find a faculty mentor that is just as passionate about the potential research project. It would be unfortunate to be in a situation where a faculty mentor is either too controlling or completely absent. Veazey was a great resource for us, simply because she was experienced in the areas of feminism and human rights. She also helped guide us in the right direction without making our research hers.

Herbert McCullough is a political science senior.

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