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Looking Back on Graduate Research: The Ups & Downs

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CWU chapter.

As my two years of graduate school are coming to a close, it’s hard to believe that I’m days away from giving my thesis defense. It has taken so much work that I did not know I was capable of and I’m grateful for the experience. Looking back, I want to reflect on what I did, how I got through it, and the advice I would give to incoming and current graduate students who are continuing to work on their research.  

Finding Your Passion Project

I knew diabetes and nutrition were my field of focus for me. At first, it was really hard to narrow the scope, and find a research question that could be further investigated and that I would feel invested enough in for two whole years. Once I looked into several articles, finding out what could be further researched, I was able to develop a purpose and a question. When it comes to starting on your research journey, finding a topic that you’re passionate about and where you want to go with it is key.

Devote Your Time

The hardest part is setting aside time. Every day, every week you have to be available to read articles, build your literature review and build your case.  It may not seem like much to put time aside each week for two years but sometimes it can be tough, it can be hard to find the balance. My advice is, to make time whether it’s in between things in your schedule, or a set time every week it just makes the difference when you get to the final steps.

Frustration is Normal

I have had so many days where I have felt exhausted, frustrated and just overwhelmed. Some days I felt like communication was off or I just did not understand what to do after troubleshooting my data program for hours. Walk away, take a break and get your head straight. Once I was overly frustrated it never worked for me to keep continuing in my work because then it turned into not my best. I would get up and walk away from my work multiple times, but I had to just keep reminding myself that I’ll find the solution and progress.

Embrace the Nerves

I dread talking about my research, even though I know all of it from working on this for two years. I was so nervous attending my first conference, having a poster of my research up and expected to talk about my process in front of so many established people in the nutrition field. I’m discovering that the only thing I was nervous about was other people and questions I may not be able to answer. I tell myself even though it’s hard to believe that even if I can’t answer a question, its going to be okay. Control what you can control. 

As my research is coming to a close, I’m so grateful for an opportunity to find my passion project. It has been a whirlwind of emotions and learning lessons, but I will always be able to say that I did research that was beneficial for my field of interest. I hope later in my career I will get other opportunities to do further research and other projects that could teach others in the field of nutrition so much.  

My name is Katelyn Richardson. I am 29 years old. I am currently attending Central Washington University studying for my Master's in food and sciences to become a nutritionist and later a diabetes educator for kids. I've been personally battling type 1 diabetes since I was six years old. I love being outside, vintage shopping, watching movies, and going to stock car races! I love being a Her Campus Contributor because it gives me a platform to talk about current issues, topics I'm passionate about & real-life relatable experiences.