Doing Undergrad research was one of the best decisions I made as an undergrad. I was a busy freshman and was hesitant to add the RAP program to my list of things to do and participate in, but I was happy I did it. It showed me the "behind the scenes" of what professors do, and the type of studies and research they conduct in addition to teaching courses.
Due to the relationship that formed from working with my mentor, Dr Holmes, she approached me about doing my own research project in the pre-school, as that was where I worked on campus. Not only did my research teaching preschool music improve my resume and allow me to continue conducting research, but I was able to get my first experience teaching a music lesson- and then many! I attribute my (current) confidence with teaching music to pre-K to age 5 to the many opportunities I got in my undergrad as part of my research.
The Summer Fellowship was an amazing opportunity as well. It was a competitive grant and helped push me even more. Once I received it, I was able to purchase so many amazing books and instruments that would eventually be donated to the school I would be teaching at. For 10 weeks I taught music at a special needs pre-school in Milwaukee. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, and while I presented my findings at at least 3 conferences, each time was very exciting sharing with others- students, parents, and fellow teachers alike- the importance of music education with early ages. Not to mention- the money paid by UWW for the grant helped me afford my first ever car. It was a wonderful summer, and really helped me and my family out financially in addition to the educational opportunity it presented.
To summarize, research was not something that I thought of immediately when I started at UWW, but a series of coincidences helped propel me into an aspect of my undergrad career that has shaped me into the educator, researcher, and potential grad student I am today. I am so very happy and fortunate to have had this opportunity, and would encourage all students entering to at least consider it, as I did, when it is first mentioned.
To my future colleagues, and leaders of our future society:
It is not easy, but neither is having a real job after graduation. This experience can do nothing more than better you for a career in whatever you desire to pursue. It is a practical way to apply your studies and interests in real-life situations. It allows you to network with professors and other students who are also interested in bettering our world through research. Lastly, it offers a sense of accomplishment, pride, and confidence. Going into the job world today is not a walk in the park, and any additional experiences and knowledge you can personally contribute to our society is worth the time spent at UWW giving undergraduate research a try.