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Kelsey Copes-Gerbitz earned a Carson Grant to explore the history of human interaction with Zena Forest.

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Independent Researchers

Willamette’s Carson Scholars pursue a wide variety of scholarly, creative or professional projects.

Stephanie Jones knows she wants to become a math teacher when she graduates from Willamette.

That’s why she spent the summer after her junior year questioning 20 area high school teachers about how best to engage and encourage students.

“Building relationships has a lot to do with teaching math,” Jones says about what she learned. “Never, ever let students give up on themselves and never give up on your students.”

Jones conducted her research project with the help of a Willamette Carson Undergraduate Research Grant. On average, Willamette awards 10 or more grants of up to $3,000 annually to sophomores and juniors who undertake scholarly, creative or professional projects during the summer.

From Stalin to Art

Carson Grant recipient Sarah Worthing examined the historical memory of Joseph Stalin among Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars and Russians.

Elizabeth Calixtro used her Carson grant to study variables within the Latino population that may affect domestic violence reporting.

Other recent grantees have studied everything from Maori artistic weaving to Neoclassical economic theory to the role of universities in curtailing homophobia.

Benefits to Students

Monique Bourque, director of Student Academic Grants and Awards, says the Carson Scholars program gives undergraduates experience with grant writing and research — preparing them for graduate school and the job market.

It also enables students to study topics that interest them, even if the subjects are not directly tied to their majors.

“Through the program, students can explore areas that don’t fit within their curriculum,” she says. “It can help them confirm they’re heading in the right direction or show them a new direction.”

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