The Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs is accepting applications to its undergraduate research scholar program until March 15.

Undergraduate research scholars who are accepted will have the chance to work in fields such as energy, the environment, entrepreneurship, regional development, public policy and leadership. The Voinovich School typically reaches out to Honors Tutorial College students but anyone can apply. The program is composed of the research scholars, faculty, and professional staff who all work together in the different research groups.

Professor Anirudh Ruhil heads the search and recruitment of new undergraduate research scholars. Students who apply must email a cover letter, resume, recent DARS report and one or two writing samples to Ruhil.

“We look for students who are motivated,” Ruhil said. “We have a minimum GPA that we encourage, at least 3.5 or higher.”

Students who are accepted into the program can expect to work 10 hours per week through both semesters for $11 per hour. Emily McCarty, a sophomore studying chemical engineering and a Voinovich research scholar, has worked with the environmental group. She said the schedule has been flexible. 

“It’s ... nice to have that flexibility and that it’s 10 hours a week,” McCarty said. “It feels like enough that I’m getting things done and doing a lot. At the same time, it’s not too overwhelming to be a full-time student.”

As students settle into the program, they have the opportunity to work with various outreach groups. Eli Wanner, a senior studying history and a Voinovich research scholar, has been working with the Ohio Adult Allies through the public health group. 

“It’s ... a program that facilitates and organizes learning opportunities for adults throughout the state that work with youth,” Wanner said. “The whole idea behind it is that it’s getting people involved with what’s called youth-led prevention.”

Through opportunities such as the Ohio Adult Allies, students have made connections and learned about things they may not have in normal work-study programs.

“They work as part of a research team,” Ruhil said. “There’s no difference between them, a faculty member or a professional staff member.”

Even despite limitations with COVID, current Voinovich scholars feel as though being a part of the program has allowed them to contribute to the Athens community.

“Every project that I’ve worked on has been really rewarding and it’s demonstrated to me how students can make a difference,” McCarty said. “I feel like when I visited Athens for the first time and knew that I wanted to come to Ohio University, I could tell the students really cared about Athens and cared about the people who live here.”

After being a part of the program for 3 years, Wanner now has a better idea of what he wants to do in his profession.

“I don’t think the public health field is exactly where I want to end up and that’s not a negative statement,” Wanner said. “The point of the whole research scholar system is you may want to be there forever, or you may want to incorporate that field into your future career or you may learn that’s not just your interest and that’s all a positive outcome.”

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