As an introduction, I have copied my personal statement from the 2012 AIA Justice Research Scholarship application.
I entered the Orange County Central Men’s Jail to conduct my first research interview at age 20. Completely uncertain of what lie beyond those doors, I was anxious to put my months of training to the test. Now, six years later, I consider my experience as an interviewer and my numerous subsequent research experiences as pivotal to my intellectual and professional pursuits. In retrospect, that day would prove crucial to my understanding of research and my application of textbook knowledge to the field setting.
During my tenure in the Psychology and Law Research Lab at the University of California, Irvine, I supervised and assisted in data collection and analysis on several large-scale research projects. Due to the sensitive nature of the topic of inquiry and the confidentiality of the research subjects, an incredible level of attentiveness and caution were required to aid in the collection of highly sensitive information. As a research assistant on these projects, I conducted and coded numerous interviews, as well as ran analyses on these data. By playing an active role in multiple stages of the research process, I learned the importance of attention to deal and precision at each phase from beginning to end. Fortunately, these lessons were instilled in me early in my academic career which has since increased the level of sophistication with which I understand the various aspects of the field, and has refined my particular foci for future professional work.
Concurrent with my Psychology and Law research, I interned with the City of Costa Mesa Human Resources Department in Orange County, California. I was given the task of creating an extensive, county-wide retirement benefit survey. This research required that I access several official databases belonging to each city to locate information, as well as research labor and penal codes to determine various levels of restrictions on these benefits. As it was quite different from the research I was conducting at UC Irvine, it was invaluable training in how to be thorough when conducting online research. It is oftentimes difficult to know when enough research has been conducted to provide an accurate depiction of the object of investigation and this project offered me the opportunity to learn how to be as exhaustive as possible in my research.
In June 2011, I completed my Master’s Degree in Political Science at UC Irvine, where I focused on public buildings—in this case, city council chambers—as a means of communication between government and citizens. I argued that the architecture and interior design of these chambers influence politically relevant behaviors, such as participation in local politics and perceptions of government. Prior to this research, I had substantial experience in academic journal research and saw this as an opportunity to examine architecture using a method that had been underutilized by scholars in this field. I familiarized myself with many design-related journals during this time and became fluent in the design-related vernacular. This has since proved useful to me as I use this terminology daily as a student at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design.
This is an abridged account of some of the research projects with which I participated. I believe that I am a qualified candidate for this program because of my breadth of research experience; my intense interest in justice design; my track record of passionate pursuits to achieve my goals; and, simply, my love for this area of architecture—which I am confident will endure throughout my career. If honored with the AIA Justice Research Scholarship, I will strive to be a vital asset to this community.
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