I credit the education-research-extension tripod that forms the foundation of leading universities for my growth in the field of public health. My early research experiences are sharpening my professional skills. They are also helping me grow into the individual I want to become. I want to share with you a little bit about what participating in a scientific research experience has taught me.
After starting a university program, you (fellow students, I’m talking to you) often change your view of the field of study and the profession you want. At least I know I did! Hands-on research experiences can help you see new possibilities and options more clearly. Through research, you are able to deepen your knowledge, to perceive new paths, and to follow a specific branch in the enormous tree of education and knowledge that most sparks your interest.
Before I began my first undergraduate degree, my father spoke to me about the importance of participating in a research or extension project. As I finish that first degree in Nutrition, I am increasingly embracing his advice. I recently began a research apprenticeship at the Federal University of Paraíba and I am now actively pursuing research opportunities offered through UNINTER.
Let me start with the goal of a research project. The mission of a university is to form critical thinkers who have the capacity to transform society. Research expands our knowledge through investigation, seeking clarification, solutions and innovations. Research projects can cause revolutionary change. They can cure diseases, create new technologies for flight, and fundamentally alter any area of expertise.
I have had the opportunity to participate in a few scientific research apprenticeships, all of them related to health. When in class, sometimes a subject can be too theoretical for me to appreciate or enjoy. Participating in research work has been very illuminating for me. It has allowed me to experience the practical side of the work that I was taught in class. I’ve discovered that hands-on research is a great way of producing and sharing knowledge.
When you apply for a project in the area you want (or you think you want), you have the opportunity to see a little of how the innovations in that area are built. You have the chance to be part of the construction of that innovation. Besides that, you can see if it is what you imagined it would be and if that truly is the area you want to dedicate your career to. In other words, it is a way of experiencing in a deeper way what your profession is all about.
Research has also taught me the importance of being active in our society and seeking to help provide solutions to our problems — with or without a college degree. Through research projects I participated in, I was able to connect, to belong to a group. I learned the time to speak and the time to listen, the time to act and the time to watch.
Watching some of the small research seeds we planted begin to flower into new knowledge has fed my soul. There were bad experiences, too — things that I came to understand I did not want for me. But after reflecting a bit, I look back and see that each step, each person, each smile, even the stones in my path have helped me move forward. I understand the immensity that is being part of scientific discovery.
I encourage each of you to have a look at the amazing range of research opportunities that UNINTER has opened up for its students. Apply to learn. Apply for financial assistance, if you need it. Serve as a volunteer researcher. Make the most of this opportunity.
(Note: If you have ever participated in international research or plan to do so, please tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org).