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Karyl Askew receives summer research fellowship from UNC Graduate School

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Karyl Askew

Karyl Askew, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Educational Psychology, Measurement and Evaluation, was recently selected as a recipient of the Thomas F. Ferdinand Summer Research Fellowship for the upcoming summer. Sponsored by the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School, the award is designed to support doctoral students so they can focus exclusively on their dissertation research.

Askew’s research is part of a larger research project, the Rural High School Aspirations (RHSA) study, housed at the Center for Developmental Science at UNC. Professor Judith Meece, Askew’s advisor, is an investigator on the RHSA study.

The RHSA study focuses on rural adolescents' post-secondary career and work transitions in a sample of adolescents living in rural communities across the United States. Askew’s work examines the connection between various patterns of extracurricular activity involvement and rural adolescents’ career aspirations. She is also interested in exploring whether the relation between activity involvement and career aspirations differs for girls and boys.

Her preliminary research suggests that adolescents who attend smaller schools, that have higher concentrations of poverty and are located in rural distant or remote locales, are more likely than their counterparts to be involved in career-focused clubs such as Future Business Leaders of America of Future Farmers of America.

“This suggests that career-focused activities might have important implications for program administrators who are designing interventions to support post-secondary educational attainment of adolescents,” said Askew. “I will take a closer look at this as part of my dissertation.”

Askew presented her preliminary work at the national biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescents in Philadelphia last March. Her presentation, co-authored by Professor Meece and Clinical Assistant Professor Matthew Irvin, was titled “Rural Adolescents' Extracurricular Activity Involvement.” It was part of a symposium on “Contextual Influences on Youth's Extracurricular Activities: Perspectives on Rural Communities, Family Immigration and Friendships.”

The Thomas F. Ferdinand Summer Research Fellowship is awarded annually to approximately 20 doctoral students across UNC-Chapel Hill. The fellowship provides students with $3,500 in summer funding and support for their dissertation research.

In order to receive the fellowship, students must demonstrate their readiness to devote the summer months to planning and conducting their dissertation research. The students must submit an application, a letter from a faculty member and a narrative describing their research goals, methodology and specific plans for summer work, as well as what they hope to accomplish by the end of the summer fellowship.

In stating her goals, Askew wrote, “The Ferdinand Summer Research Fellowship will allow me to devote my full attention toward strengthening competencies and fostering professional relationships that will serve me now and in the future towards my goal of producing scholarship that has relevance and utility within research communities, policy arenas, and youth-serving organizations.”