The Importance of Research
Community College Students Learn About Grad School
July 5, 2012
Seventeen Santa Ana College students recently spent half a day at Cal State Fullerton, learning about the importance of research.
The visit on July 3 — featuring talks by CSUF professors and an alumnus — was part of a collaborative program among the two campuses and UC Irvine. The students, all aspiring doctoral candidates, are in the six-week SAC Summer Research Scholars Program, learning about and preparing for the rigors of graduate study.
The program clearly made a difference several years ago for then-SAC student Josue Guadarrama, who took advantage of what he learned, transferred to Cal State Fullerton (B.A. human communication studies '10), became a McNair Scholar and landed a full scholarship to Washington State University, where he is completing his doctorate in counseling psychology.
Guadarrama was present at the half-day session to share his higher-education story, present his current research and offer pointers on how to pursue a fulfilling grad school experience and how to make connections with professors.
“Learning is a lifelong process,” he told the SAC students. “That’s why research is important.”
Conducting research early helps students transfer to the universities of their dreams, said CSUF alumnus Joseph A. Alonzo (M.S. education '10), academic coordinator for CSUF’s McNair Scholars program and the Summer Research Scholars CSUF coordinator.
“Surround yourself with people who you wish to emulate and work with,” Erualdo R. González, assistant professor of Chicana and Chicano studies, advised the students. “Soon, it will be you who is presenting and encouraging students to pursue higher education and a career in research.”
The summer program, said its coordinator and CSUF alumnus Fernando D. Ortiz (B.A. psychology ’92), who also serves as professor and chair of psychology at Santa Ana College, began in 2006. About 125 students have completed the program, transferred to CSUF, UC Irvine or other universities and pursued graduate studies.
The program gives university-bound community college students a rigorous research experience, he said. “Students completing this program enter their university experience with the confidence to engage in research and network with professors.”
Marine veteran and one of this year’s program participants, Angel Rodriguez, said he’s learned about opportunities he prviously was unaware of.
“Now, I’m aiming for a J.D. and a Ph.D. in criminology,” he said.