As a PAECER summer research scholar, I have had the opportunity to strengthen and better develop my critical thinking skills. I plan to use these lifelong skills for my future endeavors. Being able to receive critical feedback has given me the ability to delve deeper and has even changed my perspective on my “best” work. It is now my desire only to submit my best work and to truly analyze information before I speak, as well as publicly release. I have had a fantastic opportunity as a PAECER scholar, and I would love to experience it again, it was very helpful in developing me into a better student and thinker. It was challenging at times, ensuring I was adequately condensing the information about my research topic, editing my portion of the video, with adequate audio and visuals, and reporting back with my group members to ensure the information was addressed in a way in which the audience could interpret. However, I have heard feedback from individuals I sent the video and survey to that commented on how impressed they were. They kept saying how glad they were to have learned new information that they would not have known otherwise.
After completing all of the courses and our final video, I learned many new skills and improved the skills I already had. The program has given me so much. Before my summer research experience as a PAECER scholar, I thought I had my mind made up on a career, but experiencing the career talks and having reflected, I was led to do something that I had never thought about doing. I am still interested in a career in Dentistry, but I have begun to explore. After learning more about public health, health inequities, structural competency, social determinants of health, and health disparities, I was led to apply to the Brown University MPH Program that partners with my undergraduate institution, Tougaloo College. The program focuses on health inequities. Regardless of the final decision, it would be without a doubt that this program has helped me even to build my confidence and provided me with much-needed insight on relevant worldly topics.
I plan to use my improved critical thinking skills when school begins in the fall and throughout the remainder of my undergraduate and professional school experience. Being able to improve my critical thinking skills will be very helpful because I know that is one of the areas I struggled with beforehand. Understanding how to better my critical thinking has automatically made me a more advanced student and research scholar. The program has also taught me the value of being able to see different perspectives. We had different mentors and critical feedback. I have learned not only to look at situations through one lens but also to view and adjust to varying perspectives because we can determine the most from them. As a PAECER research scholar, this summer, having to revert to a virtual summer research experience, I was able to intimately experience the substantial effects of public health, especially during the current global pandemic of COVID-19. Although I could not experience my research program on the Vanderbilt Univerisity campus, I have still been able to gain holistic exposure to strong skills around the research. My educational journey and past experiences still consistently support and encourage me to pursue a career in healthcare. I am eternally grateful for all of these experiences because I have truly grown in character, and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds.