Summer in T-Town

So I have survived my junior year. I have been home to recharge after finals aka sleep and eat my Mom’s good food. And I am back in my house in Tacoma. This must mean summer research is commencing. This summer I have been given the opportunity to research a topic of my choosing in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. As many know, the Science department gives out research grants every summer to students but until last summer, when my housemate told me she was researching in Politics and Government department, did I find out about the opportunity for us non-Science scholars. So I decided to submit a proposal to the research grant selection committee that looked at the causes for shifting public opinion surrounding Oregon’s Urban Growth Boundary.
First of all, before I even begin discussing my topic, I want to talk about this great opportunity I have been awarded, as many of us may be unfamiliar with it, like I was until recently. The Summer Research Program is put on by the Assistant Dean’s office and allows approximately 25 students in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences to research a topic of their choosing while compensating them with a $2500 stipend! And for those two students who are selected for the Richard Bangs Collier Grant, which is interdisciplinary, they each receive $3000. This amount of money is probably more than I would be able to make working at some entry level job over the summer, which was part of the appeal. However, the opportunity to research anything you want in your field of interest is just as, well, actually, more appealing, because it provides the opportunity to experience real life research without the pressure of a class or an employer breathing down your neck. This is not to say this experience is  completely independent or stress-free. You must have an advisor and check in with them regularly throughout the summer. But for the most part, the research is your own and you are responsible for keeping up with the work, which can actually be more difficult than doing a research paper for a class. I have found it extremely difficult to pry myself out of bed at 7:30 in the morning to go to the library and work. When you know you have the ENTIRE summer to work on your project, it makes it hard to get motivated. But, it is this mind frame which can get you into trouble. So you get yourself up, drink some coffee and get to work.
Puget Sound is actually very enjoyable in the summer. I spent the summer after my sophomore year here too and fell in love with the atmosphere. The campus is quiet, there are no lines in the SUB (despite the fact that the food supply is limited), there is ample free time to go out and explore Tacoma going on biking trips to Vashon Island or Gig Harbor without being too bogged down with schoolwork. And best of all, there is sun! Daily views of Mt. Rainier, the waterfront and the Olympics bewitch you so that you think there is no other place you would rather be. And it is quite hard to argue with that beauty. I also ran my first 12k last weekend… Sound to Narrows, which is one of those things you must do to be considered a “gritty Tacoman.” There are many activities on my list to complete before the summer ends, which is a nice break from the sometimes hum-drum of research. But overall, I feel so lucky to have received a grant, as the selection pool is getting more and more competitive each year. My grant gives me the flexibility to learn about the Oregon Urban Growth Boundary while enjoying the greatness of Tacoma in the summer!

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