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Undergraduate Researchers

Mehelet Gennene

Mahelet Gennene, Africana Studies

Summer Researcher

How did you learn about the McNair Scholars Program at UMBC?

I learned about the McNair Scholars Program from Delana Gregg, the assistant coordinator of the Sondheim Public Affairs Scholars here at UMBC. Despite all the flyers, mass emails, etc. that the program disperses every year, a lot of students don’t know about it until someone directs them to it.

Was the application difficult?

The application was not too difficult. The most important aspect was that all applicants must have the strong desire to pursue a Ph.D.

Did the McNair program help you find your research project for this summer?

Yes, the McNair program helped me fund my research trip to Ghana in addition to providing me with intellectual and physical resources. Although I determined my research project on my own, I would have never gotten to where I am without the program and my dedicated mentor Dr. Lateef Badru.

How are you conducting this research?

I am combining qualitative and quantitative data that consists of content/archival analysis, field study in Ghana, participant observation at a women empowerment Non-governmental Organization (NGO), and interviews.

What has been the most interesting or unexpected thing about your research?

So far, the most interesting thing about my research has been the excited reception of people and their support and enthusiasm for my project. I didn’t expect people to go out of their way to help connect me with people and give me much appreciated advice on how I can improve my research.

What academic background did you have before you started this research?

As a member of the McNair community, I was able to take a research methods class that opened my eyes to the process or journey of conducting research in my field. In addition, as an Africana Studies minor, I have taken several helpful courses that focused in that region, most notably, Introduction to Contemporary Africa.

What are your careers goals and how does this research fit into your goals?

I want to be able to make an impact in the world I live in. Right now I am deeply interested in international human rights as well as diplomacy. I am planning on doing my masters in international affairs and eventually perusing my PhD. My current research examines how the empowerment of women through education affects the development and consolidation of democracy in Ghana. Hopefully my research will provide me with an in depth look into politics in Africa and help me focus my interests.