Today will still be about learning, ….. importance of learning to conduct research…… through my journey…..
I remember how lost I felt and how daunting it was to write the very first proposal for my undergraduate thesis. Every undergraduate student who graduated from the Institute of Forestry would have concluded at least one independent research project. Institute of Forestry in Nepal is a research-oriented institute and many faculty and students are actively involved in grant-funded research projects. So all the resources were at our disposal: previous theses for reference, seniors and faculty to guide me along, funding agencies to submit our grant proposals for funding our research, local communities, government, and non-governmental officials to provide us support with data collection and other logistics during field visits. Conducting research was therefore not new to me in my final year, but coming up with a new idea and presenting it well was….. until I actually did it!
If I didn’t realize it then, I definitely realized what a difference it made in terms of: understanding the various concepts that I was taught, collaborating with various personnel and friends to conduct field visits, being resourceful, meeting local community and working with them, gathering data, using various field and survey instruments, analyzing data, presenting and writing the thesis, and meeting the funding the organizations’ requirements.
The experience gave me a head start when I joined Namsaling Community Development Center as Environment Officer. I remember my first official on the job training was to prepare training materials overnight and to deliver the training to a local community. There were many things that I could have done better to captivate my audience but I survived my first field day and it was because I had been trained to be resourceful. There were challenges later on but the first plunge always seems the hardest and therefore the most memorable.
It was that yearn to keep learning and therefore researching and collaborating that made receiving a Graduate Research Assistantship to come to the U.S., to West Virginia University for further studies a reality. Again, a research-focused Forest Resources Management Program where coming in, the field work was not needed but I had to write another research proposal, conduct an questionnaire survey, enter data (it is an art in itself), analyze and interpret it (learn new software, understand the economic theory, interpret the results that the software spits out), prepare and give presentations and write, revise, and rewrite your thesis and manuscript. Living a technical writer’s life needs a lot of discipline but the insights you get about the people you have never met and effects that you have never thought of is quite rewarding.
Completing my graduate education without taking out student loan was possible because I got the opportunity to be involved in research and other opportunities followed. Working on the research project for my Ph.D. in Natural Resource Economics from The Division of Resource Management was the toughest part yet. It literally took a village to get me through but now that I think about it, I now know and have built relationships with a village full of people, people who I can really count on. Isn’t that a feat in itself?
I am not there yet but I know what I have learned has taken me far and will take me even farther. I have been able to use my skills, my ability to research to mentor students in their research from varied disciplines: English, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Psychology, Environmental Economics, Agriculture Education, Criminology, Anthropology, Civil Engineering, History, Forensic Science, Biometric Systems, ………
I can find strengths to help with resumes, personal statements, to troubleshoot problems, to teach myself new things, to ask the right questions, to keep improving, …..
The possibilities are endless.
I do not know everything, but getting involved in research has helped me gain the confidence that I can find the answers, I can help you find the answers.
It has also opened up a world of questions and fueled my curiosity about anything and everything.
The power of learning may seem overrated at times but your passion to learn and to solve problems will be rewarding.
So keep learning!