Faculty Engaged in Research to Help Marginalized Communities

Faculty Engaged in Research to Help Marginalized Communities

9/21 – Five UNCW tenure-track faculty across the disciplines of social work, English and nursing are engaging in research that stimulates change in marginalized communities.

The Interdisciplinary Minority Student Research Group (IMSRG) provides research mentorship experiences to undergraduate and graduate minority students, including those who identify as racial/ethnic minorities, ​first-generation college students, ​LGBTQIA+, ​students with disabilities and/or ​military veterans.

Evidence shows that students who are minoritized are less likely to participate in some high-impact practices, and research is one of those high-impact practices. IMSRG focuses on assessing the needs, interests and concerns of minority students across UNCW within a variety of disciplines, as well as engaging these students in faculty-mentored research initiatives.

“As early and as often as a minoritized student can participate in research, the more likely they will have stronger academic and professional outcomes,” IMSRG Director and social work Assistant Professor Josalin Hunter said. “They are more likely to attain graduate school, for example, and more likely to have self-efficacy and a career in their field.”

Originally from New Orleans, Hunter didn’t think she would one day pursue her doctorate degree or that she could ever be a university professor. Three mentors encouraged Hunter along her journey, reminding her that she could do more, take things higher and they saw something in her.

“I just think mentors can see things in you sometimes that you can’t see in yourself,” Hunter said. “Especially as a minority student, in certain environments, it matters. Mentorship matters so much, and I really feel like I’m where I am right now because of those three people. So, this is an opportunity for me to give back. It’s a blessing to be able to do it; it feels very full circle.”

Recently, IMSRG won the 2021 Applied Learning Project of the Year Award, a university-wide competition that recognizes excellence in an individual applied learning project. Hunter said the award was a testament to the amazing work of the students she works alongside and the great colleagues who are passionate about the work. Those faculty mentor colleagues include Anka Roberto (nursing), Addie China (English), Alicia Sellon and Kris Hohn (social work), as well as affiliate faculty mentors, Maia Butler (English) and Kim Cook (sociology/criminology).

“This year, we want to focus on connecting with others who are doing research that impacts minoritized communities at UNCW and beyond,” Hunter said. “We want to collectively think through the ways in which we mentor, to expand and be intentional about that and collaborate to make sure we’re supporting the students as best we can.”

IMSRG was originally funded through a three-year strategic initiative from the UNCW Office of Applied Learning. This fall begins the start of IMSRG’s final year of funding. They are seeking funding to expand their efforts and hone their new model of mentorship practice.