News Archives: GPRC Research Award Recipients Making a Difference in the Community
Wednesday, June 14th, 2017
GPRC students get to put their classroom work into practise doing real-world research to help community agencies this summer thanks to the College’s new Undergrad Student Research Award.
In a first-ever initiative, GPRC presented three $5,000 Undergrad Student Research Awards to students who produced exceptional research proposals addressing social issues in the community.
Four fourth-year psychology students received the awards in May. The funding helps students turn their proposals into a reality, said Michelle Yeung, GPRC Applied Scientist.
Brittany Cowen will examine the link between domestic violence and substance use among clients at Odyssey House, a women’s shelter in Grande Prairie; Kara Witow will study childhood ADHD as a barrier to participating in organized sports; and research team Anwar Tuhl and Demica Pusch will focus on the effectiveness of support systems for adolescent mental health.
All three proposals were selected for their outstanding potential to have a positive, significant impact on the community, said Yeung. The students hope to develop informed solutions to complex problems by researching the underlying causes of social issues.
“Our main goal for this research is to really impact the community and get some additional supports for adolescents,” said Pusch.
Witow also hopes her research will help others. “I know a few kids who have ADHD, and I’ve seen the way that they really want to participate in sports but sometimes have a really hard time,” Witow said. “Hopefully this research will shed light on some of the challenges they face.”
Not only do research projects like these benefit the community, but they are also an invaluable learning experience for the students, as Cowen explained.
“Getting actual experience was a whole new world,” said Cowen. “It’s one thing to take a textbook research course in your undergrad, but it’s another thing to actually get out there and do it.”
For Yeung, who is acting as a mentor to Cowen, Witow, Tuhl, and Pusch, the task has been challenging, but worth it. “It is a rewarding experience whenever you see potential translate into tangible results,” she said.
Matt Bain, an instructor in the College’s physical education department and another mentor to the student researchers, added that this type of student opportunity is even more important in a place like Grande Prairie. “We represent a hub in the North and are ideally positioned to have a far-reaching impact in many communities,” he said. “As faculty, we see the initiative students take for growing their ideas and do everything we can to support this growth.”