Connect with Undergraduate Academic Engagement
Undergraduate Academic Engagement (U-Engage) provides a home for students to engage at a deeper level with their academics through programs and opportunities such as the Office of Undergraduate Research and National Scholarships and Fellowships. ROTC, Interdisciplinary Studies: Student Designed Major, Honors Program and the McNair Scholar programs also find their home within the U-Engage.
Fall 2023 Highlights
UNC's Fall Undergraduate Symposium is hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research and is being held Thursday, November 16 in the University Center Longs Peak Ballroom. Seven finalists in each of the research presentation categories were selected based off of their applications and abstract submission to present at the Symposium, along with an additional 5 poster presenters were invited to present as semi-finalists. First place winners in both the oral and poster categories will win $100 gift cards, if eligible, and honorable mentions will also be awarded.
The faculty judges for 2023 Fall Symposium included Dr. Patrick Burns (School of Biological Sciences), Dr. Janice Dickensheets (College of Performing and Visual Arts), Brianne Markowski (Associate Professor University Libraries), Dr. James Haughian, (School of Biological Sciences - Abstract review), Melissa Weinrich (Chemistry and BioChemistry - Live presentations).
Students who present at Fall Symposium will have the opportunity to be selected to represent UNC at the 2024 National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). OUR will cover all conference expenses for the selected UNC Undergraduate students to attend NCUR, which is April 8-10, 2024, in Long Beach, California. The student selection will be determined based on the current OUR budget and will include a diversity of students and disciplines.
The National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) is dedicated to promoting undergraduate research, scholarship and creative activity in all fields of study by sponsoring an annual conference for students. Unlike meetings of academic professional organizations, this gathering of student scholars welcomes presenters from all institutions of higher learning and from all disciplines. Overall, this conference offers a unique environment for the celebration and promotion of undergraduate student achievement; provides models of exemplary research, scholarship, and creative activity; and offers student career readiness development.
Madison Gremillion won the 2023 Portz Interdisciplinary Fellowship Award through the National Collegiate Honors Council. Only three Honor students win this award nationally per year. The award amount was for $5000. Portz Interdisciplinary Fellowship Awards - National Collegiate Honors Council (nchchonors.org)
Madison’s Honors project is End-of-Life Patient Communication: Exploring Comfort, Communication and Education of Healthcare Professionals for End-of-Life Care, which is an interdisciplinary research project exploring the phenomenon surrounding healthcare professionals working with dying patients.
What makes this project interdisciplinary is that Madison has included methods and frameworks of Psychology, Philosophy, Communications, and Biomedicine. Her study uses a qualitative design and phenomenological methodology and she uses a semi-structured interview which is a common data collection method in phenomenological research. She has had five participants who specialize in Oncology, Palliative Care, Grief Counseling, Family Medicine, and Emergency Medicine respectively. She’s taken the interview data and has coded it using the software provided by UNC, NVIVO. From this, she has found themes in addition to those previously published in the limited data available on the topic. Previous themes include education, experience, and death anxiety being influences of comfort. Some emerging themes include cultural influences, both personal and US culture, support availability within the healthcare system, and accountability within the professional space.
Madison is a sixth year senior majoring in Biomedical Sciences and minoring in Chemistry. She plans to graduate in Spring 2024. Her plans for the future include applying to the Master of Public Health program here at UNC, while also applying to medical schools. She hopes to enter the medical field as an MD or DO. Her long-term goals include expanding her professional education to include Bioethics, such that she may make a larger impact either as an educator/lecturer and/or supporting policy change in the later years of her career.
Current UNC students and students transferring to UNC may apply to join the University Honors Program. University Honors provides students an opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors and to engage deeply with their studies. Students explore topics of interest, participate in experiential learning, and complete an in-depth honors thesis or creative project in any discipline. Capstone projects may include field or lab research, survey or interview research, or humanities theses in the Research Path; an applied or civically engaged project, business or teaching curriculum project in the Applied Path; or a creative writing, music, theatre, dance or fine arts project in the Creative Path. Capstone Only students only complete the capstone project.
The Interdisciplinary Studies Bachelors of Arts is an under-utilized program that allows students to design their own major in subject areas of the arts, sciences, and everything in between. Students can design their course of study based on a future career path or even a particular topic. INDS students work closely with faculty advisors to complete their program and apply what they’ve learned toward a major research project before graduation. Previous student-designed majors have included Art Therapy, Feminist Studies, International Education, and Sports Psychology.
Jackson Alston designed his own major in Public Health Analytics. The focus of his program is to use statistics to evaluate certain areas of public health. When Jackson came to UNC, he had already earned his Certified Nursing Assistant License and was a pre-nursing major. Jackson admits to struggling with the biology courses of the nursing program but used that obstacle as an opportunity to follow his aptitude for math. He had received a 5 on the AP Stats exam in high school but didn’t want to abandon his love for medicine, so he combined his interests to design an interdisciplinary program of study he hopes will lead to a career in epidemiology.
Jamie Alexander is a non-traditional transfer student who came to UNC after completing an Associates of Arts with English Designation at Front Range Community College. Prior to FRCC, Jamie had gained professional experience in writing, publishing, and web design, but missed the academic environment and hoped to gain the degrees required to teach at the college level. During her time at FRCC, she re-discovered her love for history, but her historical interests were specifically focused on ancient and medieval religious texts, especially mythological texts. At UNC, she designed a major called Religious Studies in Pre-Modern Europe, which combined her previous literary and religious studies education, and would fill in the gaps of her historical and philosophical knowledge. After graduation, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in Medieval Studies.
James Bolon started out his Interdisciplinary Studies journey with a program he designed called Social Dynamics of Sports, combining Sports Administration and Sociology. However, after completing his first year he discovered that his passions lay more with Sociology than sports. His growing interests included racism, income inequality, and group dynamics that led to biased thinking and self-censorship. Because of the flexibility of the INDS program, James was able to re-direct his course of study and created a new major titled Social Change and Public Policy, which combines the fields of Sociology and Political Science. James plans to continue his pursuit toward social change in graduate school.
The Interdisciplinary Studies B.A. program is available for motivated students who think outside the box about their education, or who have a particular career path in mind. To find out more about how to design you own major, visit ISSD:BA Program Webpage.
UNC’s ROTC program focuses on teaching students leadership skills. Students participate in physical training, leadership labs, and combat water survival tests. When students graduate from ROTC, they will earn the bar of a Second Lieutenant and can choose to be commissioned into the Active Army, Army Reserve, or Army National Guard. The UNC ROTC was also recently featured in the national news!
CJ Anderson decided to join ROTC because his family has a history in the military. By choosing to join ROTC rather than a military service academy, CJ was able to enjoy the traditional college experience while still gaining the benefits and experience of military training. He also received an ROTC 4-year national scholarship that covered all of his tuition and fees, as well as providing additional stipends. “ROTC has kept me physically active while teaching me useful leadership skills that I will use in my future career,” CJ told me. “Believe it or not, the army can be quite flexible with what you do in it. Now I want to go active duty and earn my retirement, but there is always an option of me joining the National Guard or Reserves if I wish to seek employment in the civilian sector while still serving.” Once CJ graduates, he plans to commission as a Second Lieutenant of the United States Army.
Eric Dershem joined the UNC Air Force ROTC for the training opportunities and to be a part of something bigger than himself. He also grew up in a military family and wanted to continue the tradition of military service. The Detachment 90 program, which is a joint AFROTC program for students of UNC, CSU, Front Range Community College, and AIMS Community College, gives students the opportunity to commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force or Space Force. It is also one of the top-rated detachments in the nation, and an important part of Eric’s decision to transfer to UNC. Eric states, “By joining AFROTC, I have been able to gain fundamental skills related to leadership and discipline as well as improve my physical fitness. Not only this, but I have gotten to know an amazing group of fellow cadets who are also dedicated to pushing themselves beyond their limits.” Upon graduation, Eric plans to commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force, possibly in aviation or intelligence.
Students who are interested in joining UNC’s ROTC program can find out more at https://www.unco.edu/army-rotc.