This past summer, as a participant in the McNair Scholars Program at Marian University, I conducted a research project on immigration and its impact on businesses. I worked with Dr. Jeffrey Reed, Dean of the School of Business and Public Safety, as my research mentor. He provided critical guidance and expertise, steering the project to fruition. He always nurtured the spark while challenging me to elevate my efforts and results. His counseling, advice, and mentoring were irreplaceable.
In order to complete this phenomenological investigation, I conducted confidential interviews in English and Spanish with undocumented workers in the Fond du Lac area. The goal of this research project was to identify drivers of undocumented immigration, analyze the relationship between anticipated and realized impacts, and identify differences between pre-immigration and post-immigration anticipated impacts. Additionally, it sought to identify and classify stratification, as well as to isolate themes expressed by participants in order to gain insight and a deeper understanding of a complex topic with particular interest on the benefits and labor conditions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
The research experience was invaluable in presenting the challenges and rewards of academic research within the context of real world applications. The process from study design to proposal to IRB proved to be a learning experience unparalleled in growth opportunities. This experience served as a solid foundation for my Ph.D. path.
The research project itself presented a variety of trials; each of which became a stepping stone to the end result. It was a realistic representation of a research project at higher academic levels. The research experience provided a paradigm shift, taking me from being a student of knowledge to being a creator of knowledge. That is exciting, and therein lays the value of the McNair Scholars program.
I initially expected the summer research experience (SRE) to be a real “eye opener” and a challenge. I also anticipated that it would be an unparalleled opportunity for personal and professional growth. More importantly, I learned from conversations with McNair staff and my mentor that it would be an immensely rewarding experience. I can honestly say that it has lived up to everything I expected it to be. What I learned is not only valuable as a foundation for future endeavors, but it has served to solidify my decision and fuel the passion I have found for research and academia as a lifelong pursuit. I am hopeful this will not only define the next stages of my life, but will also allow me to positively affect society and the lives of those individuals I will serve in my future roles.
As a synopsis, I have discovered that research is exciting as a whole, challenging in its parts, and rewarding in its impact. I can think of nothing else that provides the opportunity that research and imparting knowledge offers. I plan to continue researching complex and challenging relevant questions that have an impact for society. I look forward to identifying and understanding new data that is meaningful, consequential, and influential.
Various community organizations and leaders in the Hispanic community were instrumental in networking contacts within the targeted population, locating participants, and facilitating the interviews. Amy Hardt was vital bestowing unwavering positive patronage and assistance. Osvaldo Falcon imparted cultural insight while Courtney Hardt was instrumental in providing research assistance with data transcribing and translation.
This research would not have been possible without the resources of Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The tremendous support and guidance of the McNair staff at Marian, including Dr. Susan Bornstein-Forst, Teri Durkin, and Garry Moise were invaluable.
Greg Hardt, of Princeton, Wis., is a senior at Marian University majoring in Human Resource Management, Business Administration, with a minor in Information Technology.