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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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LAUNCH 6th annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

Photo by Provided

After participating in undergraduate research programs and graduating from Texas A&M, Kanika Gakhar was accepted into an AeroAstro master’s program at MIT.

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, Texas A&M’s Learning communities, Academic excellence, Undergraduate research, National fellowships, Capstones and Honors, or LAUNCH, will be hosting a symposium for undergraduate students to showcase their research.

Every year LAUNCH hosts a symposium for students to showcase their individual research that LAUNCH supports. The symposium serves as practice for students to build confidence in public speaking and for competitive presentations. LAUNCH makes sure to make the symposium a non-intimidating event for the students Program Coordinator for Undergraduate Research Annabelle G. Aymond, Class of 2014, said. This event was created to allow students to practice presenting their research, Aymond said.

“For our thesis students this is the first time they’ve presented their work,” Aymond said. “We want an approachable event that really helps them hone their skills and give them nice, constructive, positive feedback on their research and on their presentation skills.”

LAUNCH is more than what meets the surface, Aymond said. LAUNCH provides support to all students, campuses and areas of study. 

“We’ve got LAUNCH undergraduate research, national fellowships, capstones and honors,” Aymond said. “All of us come together to offer high impact practices to undergraduate students, but we also occasionally engage with graduate students, postdoc[torate students], and then of course faculty members. We serve the entire campus as well as other A&M campuses. So we are spread all over the place.”

LAUNCH serves as an important career development resource Associate Director for Undergraduate Research Steven Hague, Ph.D., said 

“The impact that LAUNCH has on our student body is very profound,” Hague said. “We represent an excellent pathway for students to get into graduate school and not just graduate school, but other professional schools: law school, medical school, dental school — those types of careers. LAUNCH helps give students confidence that they can hang with the best as well as a way to distinguish themselves and separate themselves from the pack.”

Political science senior Izzah Yosuf said this symposium taught her about public speaking and the resources A&M provides.

“I’ve learned a lot throughout this entire process,”  Yosuf said. “This symposium will help my presentation skills and public speaking. I’ve only done a couple of class presentations, which isn’t as big as this. Research in general has just taught me a lot about using the resources that I have available … I also learned how to talk to people and I set up meetings whenever I have questions. It’s a lot easier to just talk to someone face-to-face as opposed to sending an email.”

Hague said LAUNCH helps students stand out, especially when applying for jobs.

“LAUNCH helps give students confidence that they can hang with the best as well as a way to distinguish themselves and separate themselves from the pack,” Hague said. “They can graduate with honors, they can graduate with distinction, looking a little different when they walk across the stage. This symposium will be on their resumes and their CVs, and that’s gonna look very favorable toward graduate programs, professional schools or employers that have this type of experience.”

LAUNCH provides students with the help and opportunity to build a diverse network and meet others who might not have many similarities but have something in common, Hague said.

“One of the things that I enjoy about the program the most is networking,” Hague said. “Letters of recommendation are really important as students transition from college into the workforce or professional schools. Another thing I enjoy about this program is students that are in these programs have common interests while they’re diverse with what they do whether it be research or the honors program.” 

Hague said LAUNCH also provided guidance and support for first generation students. 

“One of the things Texas A&M prides itself on is preparing first generation students to take the next leap,” Hague said. “And so we have a lot of programs. If your parents didn’t go to college and you don’t have family members involved in graduate or professional schools, you may not know much about how to get to that next level. And that’s one of the things that LAUNCH can help students do.”

LAUNCH is planning to expand into the arts and humanities, specifically the School of Performance, Visualization & Fine Arts, Hague said.

“We wanna go in a little bit different directions,” Hague said. “We’ve got an ambassador program for undergraduate researchers, and I want to expand that program to give a little bit more to those students than what they’ve been getting in the past.”

Yosuf said the symposium is a great way for her to fulfill her public presentation requirement for her creative works thesis. Her research is a creative way to express issues that are relevant to her and other communities, Yosuf said. 

“My research is based around my poetry collection that I’ve been working on,” Yosuf said. “It’s about 30-40 poems based around my experiences as a queer person and being Muslim. My research is really focused on depictions of queer Muslims in Islam, specifically like the South Asian community, because that’s more what is relevant to me. Right now I’m working on practicing Symons to read at the symposium.”

Invites and participants’ feedback is important to the symposium, Aymond said and they encourage students to come to the event.

“We all like that we have a dedicated audience,” Aymond said. “We invite our honors students, our learning community students to come, and look at research. There’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of communication.”

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