Choosing from a long list of fascinating research projects, each STRIDE scholar may select one that especially piques her interest. She is then paired with a faculty member with whom she will work approximately seven hours a week over the coming year.
Typically, the program matches some 100 students with professors representing more than 30 academic areas from art history to chemistry, with project topics as diverse as the people who work on them.
Current and former STRIDE participants say that one of the program’s most valuable aspects is the close look it provides at the world of academic learning. Another is that STRIDE professors frequently become mentors who can encourage, advise and connect students with others and help sort through the many opportunities that may come along during and after college.
STRIDE students are also pleased to find they can do meaningful, interesting work. Computer science major Margaret Zaccardi from Greenwood Lake, New York, spent her second year as a STRIDE scholar helping to manage the Poetry Center’s Web site. “To be involved personally in bringing famous poets to Smith and publicizing the events is quite rewarding,” she said. She assisted Ellen Watson, director of the Poetry Center and lecturer in English.
Her experience is not unique. STRIDE students and faculty often collaborate and present results of their joint research at academic conferences or are listed as joint authors when their findings are published in academic journals. The research is work, but it has its benefits—even beyond the money earned. STRIDE lets you test an interest in an intriguing academic area and gives you practical experience as an integral part of a professional research team.
STRIDE scholars get together about once a month throughout the year, sometimes for dinner on campus, sometimes for tea. Smith faculty, STRIDE mentors and other guests are often on hand. For some students, one of the most memorable of these gatherings is the annual English tea.
Another academic and social highlight is Celebrating Collaborations, Smith’s annual showcase of student research and performance highlights students’ intellectual achievements and their collaborative efforts with faculty in a variety of departmental, program and interdisciplinary projects. Students participate in individual talks, panels, poster sessions, exhibits and performances, in the areas of science and technology, performing arts, and social, cultural and literary studies.