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Summer Research Relives the Old West

When his summer began, LaRon could be found leafing through mounds of books, papers, and articles in an effort to research the topic, "Blacks in the West." “Initially I helped [Mack] do research, I gathered information and resources for an independent project” says LaRon. However, once the summer got underway, LaRon and Dr. Mack were able to begin focusing on a joint essay for a peer review journal. The essay will feature information on the role of African Americans in the pioneering of the early American Western frontier.

LaRon speaks of this project with pride because he feels that he is making a truly significant contribution. “I think that this is a really good project, especially the subject matter. I want to discuss and confront the role that African Americans played in the development of the western frontier,” says LaRon.

LaRon admits that when the project began there was not a lot of excitement involved. However, upon reflection he grew to understand that the experience he was gaining would help him in his future. “This project gives me experience in writing and understanding history. I want to be a professional historian and someday hope to be published. Doing this research gives me the experience and skills necessary for my future,” comments LaRon.

Working independently has offered LaRon a lot of opportunities to explore his skills as a researcher. “I am learning to take initiative,” says LaRon. “I feel that Dr. Mack trusts me to do the work on my own, and do it right, and that kind of trust has really helped my confidence.” In addition to this newly found confidence, LaRon has found an appreciation for his field and his mentor. “Being able to talk to and observe Dr. Mack has been one of the greatest rewards of this project; I have access to his wisdom and knowledge which allows me to see another aspect of the history field.”

Involvement in this research has contributed to both LaRon’s education and his understanding of the research process, both of which he hopes might give him an edge in graduate school. “I am gaining a lot from Dr. Mack; research methods, techniques, and procedure. I feel that this experience is helping to prepare me for graduate school…I feel that I am really learning a lot.”

The project ended August 3 with both student and professor feeling quite positive about the progress that they had made. Both LaRon and Dr. Mack hope to have an essay summarizing the results of their research published.

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