Hometown: Tampa, FL
Dr. Judy L. Postmus, Professor and Director, Center on Violence Against Women and Children, Rutgers School of Social Work
Dr. Sarah McMahon, Associate Professor and Associate Director, Center on Violence Against Women and Children, Rutgers School of Social Work
Share a little bit about your research through the GSEF program?
This summer, I worked with Dr. Judy L. Postmus and Dr. Sarah McMahon at the Center on Violence Against Women and Children at the Rutgers School of Social Work. I designed my study to use data from the 2014-2015 Campus Climate survey on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus. The nature of this survey was to find the prevalence of different forms of sexual violence on campus. My concentration was on the experience of minority students, and I originally wanted to focus my research on bisexual, pansexual, and gay/lesbian students as well as gender categories such as male, female, transgender, and gender non-binary, as compared with the heterosexual student population. Unfortunately, the survey did not include some of these categories and only 18 transgender students responded, compared to over 8,000 heterosexual student responses. Therefore, the statistical power would be too small to make any meaningful conclusions. My final categorizations were heterosexual, bisexual, and gay/lesbian students. I found results consistent to prior studies. Bisexual students were more likely than the other groups to experience more sexual violence (rape, sexual coercion, and sexual assault, both after arriving and before arriving to Rutgers). Bisexual and gay and lesbian students were also more likely to distrust the procedure of the university when reporting sexual assault and were more likely to expect student peers to be negative if they talked to them about being assaulted. Overall, my research was valuable to the Center on Violence Against Women and Children because it has the power to discuss these findings with the college and advocate on the behalf of the survivors.
What have you found most surprising about your experience in the GSEF program?
The most amazing and surprising thing about this program is how much support you get. I have so many people looking out for me and helping me learn about graduate school and research. You also connect a lot with other members of the GSEF program both at Beloit and at other schools. It’s such a big and supportive network and I was not expecting it. That is the best thing about this program.
How has your summer research influenced your future, and what are your plans after graduation?
This experience has given me so many opportunities and helped me formulate my future goals. The Center was a really great place to learn and explore my interests. I am so grateful to have had this experience and find the potential in myself to design my own research. I thought I would always go to graduate school for psychology, but after having this experience, I am planning on getting a master’s in social work.
I am applying to the University of Southern California, UCLA, UW-Madison, UM-Ann Arbor, University of South Florida, and Rutgers University. My top three are USC, UCLA, and Rutgers, and I really hope to go. I am nervous, but I am so much more confident since being in this program and having such an amazing support network behind me to help.