MOAB, Utah — Utah State University Moab student Porscha Doucette has been awarded the Peak Summer Research Fellowship, becoming the first student from a USU Statewide campus to receive the prestigious fellowship. Doucette is a junior majoring in social work in USU’s College of Humanities & Social Sciences.
Doucette will join other Peak Summer Research Fellows in the program, which starts May 16. She will work with USU faculty member Chris Babits, a postdoctoral teaching fellow in the Department of History.
“This is the highest honor that CHaSS awards,” Doucette said. “I appreciate this research fellowship program because I excel as an independent learner. The opportunity to delve deeply into a topic, with only my own goals and deadlines, is exciting — but it is even more exciting to be able to do so with a mentor and the support of the university and faculty.”
Endowed by David and Terry Peak, the Peak Summer Research Fellowship funds a select cohort of highly engaged undergraduate students in the Peaks’ colleges — the College of Science and the College of Humanities & Social Sciences — through a summer research experience. These fellows will spend 10 weeks actively engaging in research with faculty mentors, have access to special trainings and workshops, and will come out of this fellowship poised to succeed in competitive applications for graduate school and national fellowships and grants.
Together, Doucette and her mentor will be researching how the history of social work is taught in undergraduate programs and will seek to find out how more diverse voices could be included in curriculums. The project hopes to create a multicultural and diverse understanding of the history of social work.
“As I’ve seen so far, the history of social work is largely framed around the contributions of white middle- and upper-class women and ignores the similar contributions of racial and ethnic minorities,” Doucette said. “Through this research fellowship, I hope to engage in effective social justice by influencing the history of social work which is taught at USU, and hopefully, all undergraduate social work programs.”
Babits encouraged Doucette to apply for the fellowship and will act as her primary mentor during the 10-week research project. Babits is excited to see how the project evolves, seeing its potential to have an impact in the social work landscape.
“Porscha’s promise as a researcher and as an advocate for change are on full display in her Peak Fellowship project,” Babits said. “‘Investigating the Erasure of Diverse Perspectives in Social Work’s History’expresses a dire need for greater historical literacy in social work education. Porscha has outlined an impressive research endeavor for this summer — one that has the potential to transform how social work educators teach the history of their profession, both at USU and throughout the nation.”
Doucette is a nontraditional student, having returned to school after 20 years of being out of college. She reenrolled in college in spring 2021. She chose USU Moab because of its proximity to her home and the flexibility the campus offered a nontraditional student such as herself.
“I have been living and working in Moab for the last 14 years,” Doucette said. “The ability to go to school without moving was essential in my decision to go to USU.”
Located in the outdoor recreation paradise of Moab and boasting one of the greenest buildings on any USU campus, Utah State University Moab offers students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university. With programs such as Nursing, Elementary Education, Recreation Resource Management and Social Work, technical education in Health Professions, Automotive and Business, and degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees, USU Moab offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at moab.usu.edu.
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