University Honors Student & Outstanding Student Scholar
Questions for student:
Where are you from?
I am from Jacksonville, Florida.
In a few sentences tell us about your honors thesis! How would you describe it to someone not in your academic field?
For my honors thesis, I sought to describe the current quality of individualized education plan goals for children with traumatic brain injuries. An individualized education plan is a document that every student with disabilities in the school system receives. It is comprised of a series of goals that are written by the professionals who will be helping that child along the way, such as teachers, occupational therapists, speech therapists, etc. Because children with traumatic brain injury are a unique population, it is important to understand the current quality of these goals so that professionals can understand what improvements should be made.
How did you choose your mentor, and what do you recommend students interested in starting an honors thesis look for in a mentor?
I met Dr. Farquharson when I took her Clinical Methods course in Spring of 2019. I met with her at the beginning of the semester to learn more about a new research lab she had brought to FSU. I worked closely with her in the lab for a semester before deciding that I wanted to conduct my honors thesis work in that lab. My best advice for finding a mentor is to find someone you feel comfortable working with. An honors thesis is a year-long commitment and you will need to meet with you mentor many times along the way. Dr. Farquharson was always very positive and encouraging, so meeting with her and emailing her with all my drafts was a huge contributing factor to my success on this project.
What are your plans after you graduate from FSU?
After I graduate from FSU, I will continue onto graduate school and earn my masters in Speech-Language Pathology.
Kelly Farquharson, Ph.D
associate professor, communication sciences & disorders
Questions for mentor:
What motivates or inspires you to mentor undergraduate students?
I think that early research experiences are really important for students. I was a first-generation student and my experiences as an undergrad were empowering and eye-opening. It’s my hope that I can help students see early on that research isn’t something scary or difficult. It’s actually how we solve most problems in our lives, without really knowing it. We have a “hunch” about something, collect data/ observations, and then make an informed decision. This is true for things as trivial as where to go out to eat and as big as deciding if and where to go to graduate school. Empowering students with scientific skills helps them see that science is everywhere, and that they have a very important role in it.
What do you think characterizes a good mentoring relationship between student and honors thesis mentor?
I think open, honest, and clear communication from the start is incredibly important. I also establish a rapport that I hope fosters transparency on their end. I like working with students on their research, so I like to see messy outlines and drafts along the way. I want them to know that, even though my expectations are high overall, I am not expecting perfection at any stage of the game. I urge my students to take each piece of their project as far as they can independently and then send it to me for feedback. I think this helps to model for them a set of standards to which I hold myself: work hard, but give yourself grace.