Rewarding Exceptional Undergraduate Student Researchers

Friday, June 14th, 2013 | Posted in Your Library in Action by Eileen M. Thornton | Comments Off on Rewarding Exceptional Undergraduate Student Researchers

Among the many benefits of giving to USF Libraries programs that directly support students is the opportunity to meet the deserving students who benefit from your donation and understand just how it supports their intellectual and career development.

Undergraduate researcher Olivia Means with USF Libraries donor and Director of Academic Services Nancy Cunningham

Undergraduate researcher Olivia Means with USF Libraries donor and Director of Academic Services Nancy Cunningham

“Good research begins not only with an idea but also an understanding of what has gone before.  Navigating, evaluating, and applying the knowledge contained in scholarly literature is a challenge for even the most seasoned researchers.”

-Nancy Cunningham, library donor and director of academic services for the USF Libraries

Nancy Cunningham, director of academic services for the USF Libraries, recently made a financial gift to establish an award for the best use of the research literature by an undergraduate researcher. Open to application from students accepted to participate in the Office for Undergraduate Research’s annual Undergraduate Research and Arts Colloquium, it recognizes a sophisticated and comprehensive use of scholarly literature and library archives. USF biology major Olivia Means won this year’s award for her investigation into the historical role the USF Florida Mental Health Institute (FMHI) played in children’s mental health advocacy.

Olivia was mentored by USF librarian Tomaro Taylor and worked with primary source materials, which are an important part of the research process, as well as scholarly literature. Of working with Olivia, Tomaro says, “Olivia was incredibly motivated and a joy to work with. She had done some fascinating background preparation that I hadn’t anticipated a student would do. It was a great experience working with her because she put forth so much genuine effort.” Olivia has quickly become an accomplished researcher during her studies at USF, and participated in FMHI’s Summer Research Institute in 2012. The resulting project, “Barriers to Seeking Help for Mental Health Issues in Women Ages 22-64” was published in the Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences and accepted for the poster session at the 7th International Conference on Social Work in Health and Mental health this summer in Los Angeles. Olivia is active as a Sunday school teacher and tutor to children in the community and is applying to medical school this summer.

“This was one of the most rewarding experiences… I’ve never had the opportunity to meet someone who was a direct beneficiary of a donation, shake her hand, meet her mother… this is exactly what I wanted. I could not think of a better use of my money… This is the best money I’ve ever spent.”

-Nancy Cunningham

What is a modest gift to a donor can achieve so much in support of a hardworking undergraduate student. Consider a gift in support of this fund, so that students like Olivia are given a chance to be UNSTOPPABLE. Where else can you see your money go so far? To make a contribution, contact the USF Libraries Development office here or by calling (813) 974-4433 .


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