Nursing Pre Grad Intern Nicole Gloris
Before beginning the Intellectual Entrepreneurship- Pre Grad School Internship program I was involved with research and considering the possibility of one day attending Graduate School. I am a nursing major and in the honors program, so I have been pushed to do research from the very beginning and was paired with a faculty member to be my mentor. Dr. Heather Becker has been my mentor since the Fall of 2014, and eventually she hired me to be her undergraduate research assistant. Through that research assistant job I began forming relationships with some of the other graduate research assistants that also work on Dr.Becker's projects. From exposure to them I became more and more interested in the thought of one day pursuing Graduate School. So when I decided to enroll in the IE program, I asked Ashley Henneghan (one of the Graduate Students that I've worked with for the past year) to be my mentor. This gave me a great opportunity to have the confidence to ask her the questions I've always wondered about Graduate School.
This experience began by meeting with Ashley every so often and asking her what it's like being a graduate student. Obviously, there is a lot that encompasses graduate school and what an individuals experience is, so she took the time to tell me her own which I was very grateful for. Through her personalized story my eyes were opened. Before really speaking one on one with Ashley, I always assumed people that went to graduate school were all really focused and all wanted to be researchers- which really turned me off. While I like the fact that research can affect and help people in a broad sense I never have thought that it's what I wanted to do I wanted to help people more on an individual basis where I get to interact with the patient instead of entering their data onto a computer screen. Ashley helped me realize though that graduate school is what you make of it- and that you don't have to JUST be a researcher to advance your degree. At the Nursing School all undergraduate students ever see are graduate students doing research, but I learned that is because the ones that aren't doing research are out practicing in doctor's offices or hospitals- and go unseen by us! I was then shown all the different advanced degrees that the University of Texas School of Nursing provided, ranging from Master of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice, or even a PhD. There's also different ways you can go about getting these different degrees, which Ashley told me that she is doing the BSN to PhD program, but also got her Master's along the way! She explained that if I was motivated and really knew what I wanted to do I could get through Graduate School with a PhD in 4 years. However, it is difficult for most graduate students to finish with an advanced degree in 4 years because they don't have a set plan, or they have trouble conducting their research project. On top of this information I was also happy to learn that if you work hard at it, you can get funding to pay for most of your graduate school. Still, graduate school takes a lot of time and effort and you really need to know if it's what you want to do so Ashley helped me do a little soul searching to see what I had a passion for. We both know that I can tolerate research, but is it something I want to spend 4 years to pursue a degree in, and would I be happy doing it throughout my life? Or did I want to stay in the patient world and specialize in a certain practice to provide highly skilled care to sick individuals? Well, the answer to these questions really comes with time, but to help the process Ashley encouraged me to participate in the Texas Student Research Showdown to determine whether or not I enjoyed explaining and presenting my research to others.
Over this past semester I did compete in the very first Texas Student Research Showdown competition and ended up making it to the finals round where each of the 6 finalists presented their research for 6 minutes. It was through this process where I really developed a passion for my research it became more than looking at and analyzing different variables and their correlations but instead was information that allowed me to educate others on the importance for individuals with MS to consult with a dietician about their nutritional practices. Ultimately I tied for 3rd place in this competition which helped solidify the importance of my research to me. After discussing the experience with Ashley she explained to me how getting a PhD in an area of Nursing Research doesn't mean you can't still practice in the health care setting- you can do both!
By participating in the IE program I have become better prepared for Graduate School and I also have a better idea of what area I would like to advance my degree in. Exposure to the life of my graduate student mentor, Ashley, and discussing with her all the elements that graduate school entails has been a vital part of this program. Without this class, I would still be wondering if Graduate School is for me but now I know that it is for me.
Throughout this program I have grown as a researcher, presenter, and a student. I feel lucky to have had a mentor that helped me every step of the way, and aided me in figuring out what my passions are. I will continue to work as an undergraduate researcher throughout my last 3 semesters of school as well as further develop my own research and hopefully one day present it to a larger audience. Through this program I have not only been taught essential things to include in my resume when applying for graduate school but have also done those exact things to add to my resume! The IE Pre- Graduate School Internship was a vital part of helping me decide my future path and I am so excited to be a future Graduate Student pursuing my dream in Nursing!