This is part one of a series on the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP).

By: Sly Worthy Jr.
Social Work and African American and African Studies Double Major 
The Ohio State University

When I first thought of the word “research” I thought I would have to be in a lab, dissecting things, looking into a microscope and so much more. I could have not been more wrong. Although a lot of research takes place in actual labs, research can take place anywhere. What I thought is the reality for a lot of students from underrepresented identities as higher education sometimes seems like a foreign language. It was not until I met one of my mentors, Dr. James Moore III, where SROP or the idea of research was even presented to me. I do not think that words could explain how terrified I was of the idea of research. I was eventually introduced to a man who I did not know at the time would become my faculty research mentor, Dr. Scott Graves Jr. Our first interaction was just informational as I wanted to find out more about the School Psychology Program here at OSU. In our initial conversation he displayed how interested and invested in me he was so I went out on a limb and asked could he be my mentor for SROP. At this point, I still did not have any idea about research and what research looked like. As the summer started and SROP was approaching, I began to get more nervous. Not nervous because I did not think I could do it, but nervous because here again, I was entering another realm of the complex higher education that I did not know anything about.

Upon arrival, I was the only student that was a rising junior which made this even more terrifying. Dr. Graves was one who allowed me to be vulnerable and took his time to not only walk me through how to conduct research but getting to know me as a person. This allowed me to remain optimistic, I knew that I had no idea what research entirely was or how to conduct it, but I knew that I was willing to work as hard as I could to learn and that I had a supporting cast. SROP put together a system from the staff, the students and their curriculum that provided me with the knowledge and support that I needed to be successful. An unfortunate situation occurred that resulted in me losing not only my laptop but all my research progress halfway through the program. With the support and persistence of SROP, Dr. Graves, and myself we were able to complete the project. SROP provided me with an opportunity to explore the unknown and to meet some great individuals.

I am still in contact with my SROP cohort, some of the SROP staff, and my faculty mentor. After the program, Dr. Graves and I continued to work on our research project. He provided me with another opportunity to present my research at the College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE) Forum.

Sly with his poster presentation at the College of Education and Human Ecology (EHE) Forum.

As the year went on, we worked on an article to go along with our research project. Dr. Graves walked me through how to create an academic article and after we finished it, he walked me through the submission process. A few keys that I believe are essential for a successful research mentorship are:

  1. Trust
  2. Accountability
  3. Supportive and effective communication
  4. Putting the relationship first, and the research second.

For other underrepresented students who are not sure if they would like to get involved in research I would encourage them to find a mentor who is interested in the things you are and to explore programs like SROP that are made to walk you through the process while providing everlasting experiences and knowledge. I will conclude with how I currently think of the word “research” as someone who is a Black, low-income, male-identifying, first-generation college student. In plain terms, research is essentially the way that I get to obtain knowledge and/or evaluate the problems and systems that plague our society with the intent to find solutions.