Samuel Davenport was encouraged to apply for the BUILDing Scholars summer program at UTEP by WNMU Undergraduate Research Coordinator Joe Doyle and assistant psychology professor Dr. Jennifer Johnston. The sophomore psychology student and WNMU Presidential Scholar says, “They felt like through this program, I could gain a true understanding of whether psychology was the route I wanted to go.”
Samuel spent the summer months in El Paso, where he was partnered with a doctor of social work and took a course in which one of the assignments was to create a proposal for a Department of Health and Human Services Healthy People 2020 Community Innovations Project.
Volunteering on the nightshifts at the Opportunity Center for the Homeless, he got to know the city’s homeless population. “The Opportunity Center is the only place that takes in all individuals no matter their condition. The front desk is like the fishing net. It catches all the individuals falling through the cracks,” he said.
In addition to identifying the facility’s needs and outlining them in a proposal requesting $15,000, Samuel crafted a survey that can be given clients before and after they receive services to assess the impact of the Opportunity Center.
With the support of one professor at UTEP, Samuel was able to accomplish it all on his own. “I never thought I’d be able to do this. I’d just finished my first year and wanted to keep the ball rolling. I was very nervous but was willing to take a jump,” he says.
Samuel created a poster and presented it at the conclusion of the BUILDing Scholars program and hopes to present it at the WNMU symposium this winter too. “From the program, I discovered that advocacy is something I want to do in my profession. I understand the importance of advocacy. There are individuals who weren’t advocated for properly. Homelessness is a marginalized population,” he says.
If you are interested in this Summer Research Experience contact WNMU Undergraduate Research and Grant Coordinator Joe Doyle at 575-538-6658 or firstname.lastname@example.org.