As we reach the end our summer series profiling undergraduate research at the University of Lethbridge, we are turning our focus of the last profile to the student behind the scenes of this series: Monica Lockett.

Monica spent her summer vacation writing these feature articles, in addition to conducting research for her honours thesis. This is Monica's fourth summer with the Office of Research and Innovation Services, and she spent this summer reaching out to students, gathering information about their research, and turning these into feature articles that have been published throughout the summer.

My overarching goal was to highlight some of the exciting and innovative research that is being conducted by undergraduate students on campus. I really enjoyed learning about the different projects being conducted around the university, and having the opportunity to showcase the work being done by these students is fantastic.

In total, we profiled 23 students across three faculties and 11 departments. Take a look at our stories here!

When not working on the student profiles, Monica spent time working on her honours thesis. A fourth year student in the Department of Sociology, Monica is studying professional identity and role construction in rural journalists in Alberta. She is being supervised by Drs. Athena Elafros and Muriel Mellow for her project.

Her research aims to understand how journalists working in rural communities in Alberta view their role in their community, survey their feelings about living and working in rural areas, and obtain a snapshot of working conditions in news organizations.

Utilizing qualitative interview methods, Monica spent her summer conducting interviews with nine journalists across Alberta. Over the next few months, she will analyze this data and write her thesis based on her findings. Monica is taking a symbolic interactionist approach to her work, which focuses on the subjective meanings we create in our day-to-day interactions and how they shape our own behaviours.

Image: A newspaper printing cabinet that contains metal letters for a printing press.
Image: A newspaper printing cabinet that contains metal letters for a printing press, credit Monica Lockett.

A professionally trained journalist, Monica says the inspiration for her project came from her own personal experiences.

I used to work in rural communities after I obtained my journalism diploma. I found this experience simultaneously isolating and engaging, as I was both an outsider, in terms of belonging to the community, and an insider because of my role in the community. This dichotomy really defined how I approached my work and I viewed myself as being on the fringes of the community, not really belonging to it. When I came back to post-secondary, I created this project as a way to see if there were other journalists who felt the same way I did, and how they navigated these challenges.

As a result of her work this summer, Monica has refined her skills in qualitative research methods, writing and editing, and conducting interviews. She hopes to present the findings from the study at several academic conferences, as well as create a journal article from her study. She was recently awarded a research grant from the Lethbridge Public Interest Research Group (LPIRG) to help with costs associated with her research.

For students who are interested in conducting their own research, Monica recommends they reach out to professors who have similar research interests to them, and to consider whether an independent study, an applied study, or an honours thesis would be a good opportunity for them.

All it takes is one connection with a professor to become involved in research. It's been such a great learning opportunity and I cannot wait to take these skills with me into the future!