UNCP graduate students put their research on display


The passion and professionalism of UNC Pembroke’s graduate students was on display March 23 at the third annual Graduate Research Poster Session and Information Fair, sponsored by the Graduate Council, the graduate program directors and the School of Graduate Studies.

 Jennifer Dillard

Jennifer Dillard: Elementary Education

Jennifer Dillard, who taught kindergarten for 10 years, wants every child to start school on the right foot.

“Scores of students who entered school very young – from four years, 10 months to five years, three months – fall below their peers in math, reading and writing,” Dillard said. “It does affect children.”

Dillard, a graduate student in elementary education, reviewed “end-of-grade” test scores and surveyed teachers about student attention span, socialization, classroom behavior and ability to follow directions.

To demonstrate her point, she held up three examples of “storybooks” written and illustrated by students who entered kindergarten at three age levels.

“The oldest student’s work shows a lot of maturity and the middle student’s work is also good,” Dillard said. “You can see a great difference in the youngest child’s handwriting and art.”

Dr. Sara Simmons, acting dean of the School of Graduate Studies, said there were 30 graduate students whose scholarship was showcased. She expressed her pride in the students whose work was displayed.

“The quality of the poster presentations was high, and the students were articulate and passionate as they discussed their research topics with attendees,” Simmons said. “What a great way to share with prospective students the ways in which a graduate education imparts benefits to individuals, as well as to their families and the broader community!”

 Carmelia Webb

Carmellia Webb: Social Work

Chancellor Charles Jenkins made it a priority to attend and to speak with student presenters, their faculty sponsors and guests.

“It is always important to see our students’ involvement in research and creative activity, which is critical in their total development,” Chancellor Jenkins said. “The opportunity to interact with our students is very meaningful for faculty and students. This interaction is what makes UNC Pembroke so special, and this interaction gives me additional energy.”

During the daylight hours, Carmellia Webb is the director of hospice services for Healthkeeperz, a home health agency in Pembroke. She is a candidate for a Master of Social Work degree.

“I studied hospice care in Africa to see what I could learn,” Webb said. “It’s a continent with high rates of HIV/AIDS and other systemic health issues.”

Webb found that Africa lacks resources to provide end-of-life care, but in Uganda, she saw an interesting model of a community-based program.

 Amy Stovall

Amy Stovall: Music Education

“It’s a clinic that trains community volunteers,” she said. “If Africa had more resources, this program would be awesome.”

Comparing and contrasting hospice care in Africa shed light on her own professional experiences.

“I learned to appreciate what we have in the U.S.,” Webb said. “But no matter where you are, you have to engage the community to benefit people in the end.”

Amy Stovall’s project was an eye catcher. The high school choir director’s project was titled “It’s Not Raining Men” and speaks to an important issue for her profession.

“This research project proposed to survey high school choral literature to find more pieces for choirs without male voices,” Stovall said. “Without appropriate arrangements, education suffers.”

Stovall said the lack of baritone and bass voices is a common problem for school choirs. She said her research has whetted her appetite for more.

“I have another research project in mind on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,” she said. “I’m interested in their role in building the strength of the church and community.

“And, I’d like to hear them perform,” said Stovall, who is seeking a Master of Arts degree in music.

 Sarah Sealey

Sarah Seaely: Middle School Science

Sarah Sealey was looking for fun and engaging projects for middle school science instruction, so she built one.

“I wanted to move away from ‘cookbook’ style labs into an inquiry-based model,” Sealey said. “We focused on making biofuel from algae.

“Algae is a promising source because it grows fast and is not a source of human food, like corn,” she said. “It was fun, and it got the students interested.”

Sealey presented the project at the annual conference of the North Carolina Science Teachers Association and will present it to the National Science Teacher’s Association regional conference this spring. She is working toward a Master of Arts degree in science education.

For more information about graduate studies at UNCP, please contact the School of Graduate Studies at 910.521.6271 or email grad@uncp.edu.