UVA's SURP Program Provides this First-Generation Student with Invaluable Professional Development

The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) is a rigorous 10-week internship program funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences as part of the Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST) pre-doctoral fellowship program.

SURP provides undergraduates from underrepresented populations with valuable research and professional development experiences under the guidance of UVA Faculty. Interns are mentored by faculty and graduate student researchers while conducting research, attending workshops, taking GRE preparation courses, and presenting at a professional conference.

The Curry School of Education is continuing a Question and Answer series with this cohort's SURP interns that will be released throughout the summer. This series will highlight the SURP program, and the interns' experiences, interests, and the research.

The intern, Josh Lovett, highlighted here is working primarily with Michael Kennedy, Ph.D at the Curry School of Education. The research project entitled "Supporting Middle School Science Teachers' Use of Evidence-Based Practices: Assembling a Multimedia-Based Professional Development Package that Works" has the goal of creating multimedia-based instructional materials that middle school science teachers can use to support academic outcomes for their students with and without disabilities.

Josh Lovett attends Duke University with a major in Psychology and a minor in education and Korean. His long-term research interests include understanding language learning at different ages and finding ways to better integrate online learning resources into the classroom.

Question: Why did you choose to participate in SURP?

Lovett: I wanted to spend my summer partaking in a more intensive research experience, something I can't get at my home institution in social sciences, because if I do want to become a professor I need to have a balance of research and practical experiences. What stood out to me about SURP is that it had a very big emphasis on professional development as well as research, which is something that I really wanted and needed. As a first-generation college student, I have to navigate the graduate school admission process without the help of my parents, so I really value having mentors that can help me through the application process.

Question: What are you looking forward to most in your work with SURP?

Lovett: I know SURP is going to provide me with exposure to lots of experiences I would not get elsewhere. For example, I have had very little experience working in research labs, especially with quantitative data, but here I've learned a lot about how to code and analyze data in a different way than I have before. I also wanted to meet a lot of different people in my summer experience, especially in education where I think diversity and perspective are critical. SURP provides opportunities to meet diverse people, from students to faculty, who bring a new set of perspectives to the table as we tackle educational problems.

Question: How has SURP impacted your future career goals?

Lovett: I think that the professional development aspects of SURP are really useful. As a first-generation college student, I don't necessarily understand a lot of the grad school requirements and some of it seems really confusing. Having the opportunity to attend workshops on writing personal statements and developing CVs, as well as meeting faculty and staff here who are involved in the admissions process, has been really valuable. These experiences help students like me who have never really had the opportunity to have these conversations, either with parents or with others. All the people there, especially by advisor Dr. Kennedy, have been really helpful.

Lovett is the first SURP intern interviewed in the 2017 series, and you can read more about the other interns on our alumni website.

For more information about SURP, please visit our website or email [email protected]