This year, Hope hosted the Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities (also known as UNRH) conference. Recent graduate of Hope and the Mellon Scholars Program, Taylor Mills, is just one of the minds behind UNRH. In my effort to be a life-long learner, I asked Taylor some questions about UNRH and how the Mellon Scholars Program influenced her during the creation of the Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities.
The Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities
How do you feel Mellon prepared/encouraged you to collaborate on the creation of UNRH?
I had an amazing group experience during the Mellon Scholars seminar, which was a first in my entire academic career. I learned the value of collaboration which I think lead me to believe I could create an organization from scratch with people I wouldn’t meet with regularly in person, but all virtually. It was a huge undertaking, but we had just enough passion and insanity to go for it. Furthermore, I think the Mellon Scholars Program does a great job of encouraging students to be independent in their research interests. I felt supported and prepared to embark on something entirely from scratch, which is what makes the Mellon Scholars Program so unique.
Are there any projects you did, that you feel inspired the creation of UNRH?
I co-founded UNRH having only just finished the Mellon Scholars seminar so I hadn’t completed many projects yet. The seminar group project topic was one I proposed because I think research can and should have an impact beyond the world of academia. UNRH is an organization designed to empower students and provide them with opportunities often limited to graduate students and faculty. Since I have always had interests in pedagogy and social justice, the Mellon Scholars Program equipped me with the academic and collaboration skills that propelled me toward creating UNRH.
What do you hope to accomplish with UNRH in the coming years?
I hope that UNRH continues to diversify, involving more institutions, international students, and original scholarship. I also hope that UNRH participants do feel empowered to take ownership over their educational experiences. Undergraduate students are full of potential and I hope UNRH becomes known for changing the pervasive student mentality from being a passive learner and receiver of knowledge to an active agent of change and independent researcher.
In a different sense, I am no longer a student, so what I hope to accomplish with UNRH in the coming years is to have new groups of students keep UNRH going and growing as I take a back seat.