Communication studies majors Chloe Hill and Thomas Hernandez have received Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) awards. With the guidance of a mentor, Hill and Hernandez will conduct research over the summer in an effort to prepare them for graduate study, and will be following their intellectual curiosities wherever they may take them.
The application process was "fairly simple," according to Hernandez. Each applicant had to submit an outline of their proposed research and a letter of recommendation from their chosen mentor. Hernandez will be mentored by Director of Communication Studies Scott Gratson, and Hill will be mentored by Director of the Temple University Entrepreneurship Academy Alan Kerzner.
Gratson described Hill and Hernandez as "the kind of students that anyone would love to work with" because their interests are so vast. Outside of the classroom, Hill is on the rowing team and speaks several languages, and Hernandez is interested in dance and martial arts. Their interests inside the classroom, however, are just as vast.
Hill is specifically excited to be an SROP recipient. Along with her major in communication studies, Hill also has a minor in management consulting. Recently, she won the 2021 Changemaker Challenge through the Fox School of Business for her proposal to create a wildfire sensor that is sustainable through clean energy. She hopes that the SROP award will help her gain more in-depth industry knowledge and research techniques and that by the end of the program, she will have a really good business proposal for her product.
"It's kind of just a way of me pursuing my interest in research," Hill said, "but it also feeds my curiosity in business."
Hernandez is certainly no stranger to research. He has studied involuntary celibates and how they function as a dangerous subculture and inner-city drama television and film, and he has presented his findings at the Temple University Symposium for Undergraduate Research and Creativity. Along with his major in communication studies, Hernandez is also a political science major.
"I love studying everything," Hernandez said. Though his proposal for the SROP is to study the effect of COVID-19 on gender-based and LGBT-violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, his research experience has taught him that sometimes a project goes in a totally different direction than the proposal originally intended. Through the program, he hopes to get closer to figuring out what he would like to pursue as a research topic in graduate school.
Hill and Hernandez wouldn't be where they are today without the support of people around them. Hill is looking forward to networking and building her academic relationship with Kerzner, and said that Hernandez and Gratson have "taught me so much, even though we're all doing totally different things." Hernandez is incredibly grateful to all those that have inspired him. "I have to give credit to family, friends, anybody who's done awesome things. That's what's been pushing me," he said.
However, a large part of these students' support systems includes each other. Hill and Hernandez have known each other since their freshman year, when they met in one of Gratson's courses, CMST 1111: Communication and Public Life. At the time, Hill was a part of the Lambda Pi Eta mentorship program at Temple, which Hernandez was hesitant to join at first. After she recommended it to him, Hernandez got involved and currently serves as the honor society's president. "I have to give credit to Chloe for that because without speaking with her, I wouldn't have even done the mentorship program," he said.
"I'm really proud of him," Hill said.
SROP focuses on bridging the gap between undergraduate school and graduate school. Naturally, Hill and Hernandez are constantly thinking about their next steps after finishing up their undergraduate degrees here at Temple.
Hill will be graduating in December 2021, and is planning on getting a master of management degree after taking a few months off. Over the summer, she will be interning with BNY Mellon. "Communication studies is probably the most helpful major that I could have ever picked," Hill said. "It kind of just fed my passion for curiosity and not feeling like I have to stick to one topic."
Hernandez will be graduating in 2022, and is looking far and wide for the perfect graduate program. Ideally, he would present and publish his research at an undergraduate level before going on to study at an international institution such as Oxford University or Cambridge University. There, he could study an Asian language and international relations, and then pursue a law degree with a specific focus in international law. He is proud to be making it alongside so many other students, including Hill. "When they succeed or I succeed, I know we're all succeeding," he said."
Hill agrees, and knows that her success at Temple will follow her wherever she takes her talents. "I'm really proud to be a communication studies student," Hill said.