University-wide opportunities provide students with real-world experience
Outside of studying abroad, USC offers multiple opportunities for students to embark on their own personal journey.
Through the Office of Undergraduate Research, students can apply for mini-grants and Magellan scholarships which provide funding for independent research in a topic of their choice. With spring deadlines approaching -— Feb. 17 for Magellan and Feb. 28 for mini-grants — brainstorming for prospective applicants should be well under way.
Magellan scholar and fourth-year sociology student Katie Granger decided to look further into whether people with biracial backgrounds identify themselves with a particular race and how it impacts their education, where they live and their career choices. Awarded $3,000 as a Magellan scholar, Granger was paired with sociology professor Shelley Smith and was able to begin research the summer before and continue into her junior year. Though her actual timeline took longer than she had anticipated, Granger continues to participate in independent research and said it has been the best decision she has made while attending the University.
“Sometimes USC just seems to be a flood of students, but the Magellan Scholarship has opened up so many doors,” she said. “I’ve met great people through it and it’s really the best thing I ever did. It also looks great on a graduate school application.”
Unlike the $1,000 mini-grant, the Magellan scholarship can be used for more than just materials. For Granger this meant analyzing census data and purchasing statistical software, including receiving a portion of the grant as a salary, equivalent to a part-time job. Utilizing these resources, Granger and Smith met once a week while Granger spent time during the school week to conduct her own studies.
Assistant Director of the Office of Undergraduate Research Asheley Schryer said, despite common misconceptions, anyone or any group is allowed to apply for either grant, not only Capstone Scholars and Honors College students. Though research is often associated with science, Schryer said research is a broad idea and considers it a “test drive” to see if the field of study is even for them.
“Students don’t realize the amount of research that is being done on campus,” Schryer said. “USC is the only university that has this level of research, according to the Carnegie Classifications. Our faculty has been trained in teaching, research and communication. The sky is the limit.”
Both grants are active for one year of research. Once an applicant submits their abstract, the application goes through a board of faculty members and has about a 60 percent chance of acceptance, according to Schryer.
“The Office of Undergraduate Research helps the process of putting together the abstracts in any way we can, as long as their is a summary of what they are going to do,” Schryer said. “Maybe there is something you’re interested in but not majoring in. If you’re asking a question, it is our job to help you find the answer.”
Granger, who now works as a Magellean Ambassador, said that although she is still interested in sociology, the study made her realize that it was not a field she wanted to pursue a career in.
“It helped me learn that I didn’t want to do it forever. I love my research and I thought about working in the Census Bureau, but that’s not my plan,” Granger said. “Not only does it help you find out what you love to do, but also what you don’t want.”