Ds Scholarship

First Year Student Showcase 2021: Shanyce Taylor ’25 Explores the Importance of Diversity in Educational Settings

Every year we have Presentation of the student in the first year It is a highly anticipated event as it features the justice-focused research of John Jay’s newest student. The variety of topics covered is wide, the methodology is interesting and, in many cases, the results are surprising and inspiring. Under the guidance of our faculty and staff, along with the unwavering support of Associate Director of First Year Programs, Nancy Yang, this year’s first year students did not disappoint with their recent research offerings. We reached out to some of the presenters and delved a little deeper into their theories, methodologies, and findings.

Political science major and APPLE Corps student Chancy C. Taylor 25 He knows how important and value representation is to students – whether it’s in the classroom, in community leadership, or in our government. That’s why Taylor knew she wanted to delve deeper into the inequalities in our systems of government for her first year fair project. “During the first year seminar class, one of the topics we studied was structural racism. So, when it came to choosing the focus for the first year student fair project, my group and I decided to look at structural racism within the education system. More specifically, in our project we wanted to see the impact of Diversity in the faculty—or the lack of it—on black and Latino students,” Taylor explains. “Communities of color do not always have access to great representation in our systems and this needs to change. When we interviewed students and faculty, it was clear to see how passionate they were about this issue. Seeing how much they care about diversity and its impact on students was refreshing.”

“Communities of color don’t always have access to great representation in our systems and that needs to change.” –Chance Taylor

What are some of the methodologies used while conducting your research?
As a group, we were able to conduct general observations and interviews with current first-year students and faculty at the college. At first, it was difficult because we had to work according to the schedules of several people for interviews. We also had to respect the Covid-19 regulations, so we wanted to make sure that anyone we were in contact with was comfortable and that we were all keeping safe. But what was really challenging was getting some people to open up and talk about their experiences.

What are some conclusions you were able to draw from your project?
We were able to see that diversity in the classroom is important to students but the problem affects each individual in many different ways. Through this project, we were able to see how no problem has one simple answer.

What kind of skills did you gain working on your demo project?
Working on the project helped improve my time management, collaboration and listening skills. When I did interviews and notes, it required a lot of listening carefully, paying attention, and reading body language. Being able to sit back and listen to someone’s story and see how they are affected by certain issues has been a very rewarding experience for me. It has expanded my empathy towards others. I was able to get a feel for what they were feeling, and putting myself in their thoughts helped me deepen the research. Also, I found that undertaking this first year project really boosted my confidence and made me more open to new research opportunities.

“I found that undertaking this first year project really boosted my confidence and made me more open to new research opportunities.” –Chance Taylor

What did you learn about working in a group?
This was my first major research project at John Jay. At first I was nervous. I didn’t know if I would be able to interact effectively with the group because the work had to be done online. Fortunately, we worked well together. We learned to communicate effectively. We appreciate our cooperation. We had a mutual respect for each other. We learned the importance of compromise.

Who are your biggest supporters in helping you complete this project?
Of course, our group members were a very important support system. We did our best to help each other along the way. Our first year colloquium professor, Professor Marta Laura Haines, Ph.D., was a great help and supportive of the group. She helped us throughout the project, providing us with various resources that we could investigate.

“Don’t let the challenges that arise during the research process hold you back – stay the course and keep going.” –Chance Taylor

What advice would you give to new students who are about to do research for the first time?
I would say, don’t let the challenges that come up during the research process hold you back – stay on track and keep going. Also, don’t take any differences of opinion within the group personally. Keep your research honest, connect with members of your group, and do the best research possible.

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