By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Junior Renee Blackburn will participate in the National Science Foundation Summer Research Methods Project in Denton, Texas this summer. The program is designed for anthropology students who are also the first in their family to attend college. Blackburn was one of nine students selected nationwide to participate in the archeology program.
“I’ve always thought archeology was interesting. When I was younger, I used to want to dig up my backyard and find mammoths or dinosaurs. Since I did not really start college until I was 22, I had time to really think about what I would want to do with my life and what I felt passionate about — this is the result,” Blackburn said.
Encouraged by Professor Suzanne Spencer-Wood, Blackburn applied for the 10-week program at the University of North Texas. For the first five weeks, the students will participate in intensive classes in theory, methodology, data collection and interpretation, research skills, critical thinking and writing. For the last five weeks, the students will work on a research project, either independently or with a professor. Blackburn plans to work on a research project of her own.
One of the requirements of the program was that the student had to be the first in their family to attend college.
“I work hard so that one day, I can have a good life for myself and my future family. Though I will say that seeing the struggle to make ends meet my family has dealt with definitely motivates me to do well,” Blackburn said.
Once she receives her undergraduate degree, Blackburn plans to attend graduate school for a PhD in archaeology.
“I would really love to teach at a university level. Coming to OU and interacting with the professors that I have had has been a great experience. They’ve inspired me and really showed that they care about my future. I would love to do that for future college students,” Blackburn said.
Blackburn has never had the opportunity to participate in a research program like this in the past. The program provides room and board and a stipend for her time there. She has to handle the transportation to Texas. She is excited to see what possibilities it holds for her.
“I’m very excited to meet the other students and the faculty there. I feel like this is a great opportunity to learn new things and then bring them back to share with people here as well as apply them to my future undergrad work at OU,” Blackburn said. “I know it’s always a great idea to get an ‘outsider’s’ point-of-view and I think this will be a great opportunity to do just that.”