What stands out among your college memories? Is there one moment you will never forget? For me, one of those defining moments was when I was asked to join a research project conducted by a graduate student and faculty member. I was only 19 and an undergraduate student, and it made me feel valued when I was asked to be part of this endeavor. I felt like a researcher. This experience eventually led me to believing I could complete a doctoral program and actually become a researcher.

SFA is pushing for a stronger undergraduate research and creative discovery initiative within all six of its colleges. We want undergraduate students to feel the same connection to SFA faculty members and their future professions as I felt as an undergraduate student. This undergraduate research and creative discovery initiative is a major component of SFA’s strategic plan’s focus on creating transformational learning experiences and fostering academic and co-curricular innovations. It connects with the strategic plan in several ways:

  • The initiative works to attract and support high-quality faculty and staff. Faculty and staff who work directly as mentors with undergraduate students gain excitement that leads students to become part of their profession while also building a vibrant community for research and creative discovery.
  • Students learn marketable job skills that connect them to their profession. These skills — communication, cooperation, problem-solving, decision-making, and research and discovery — are all important aptitudes learned while participating in research and creative discovery.
  • Participation helps increase enrollment. Research shows that students who participate in undergraduate research have higher retention rates and GPAs.
  • Our university culture is strengthened. Stakeholders see a strong university that connects with solving important needs in the community, state, nation and world. This leads to more students desiring to become Lumberjacks because of the attraction to contribute to society.
  • These endeavors often increase donor funding to important projects. Undergraduate research and creative discovery projects that lead to something significant often pull at the heartstrings of donors.

If you would like to become involved and help promote undergraduate research and creative discovery at SFA, contact me at sampsonp@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-2237.