Undergraduate Research Spotlight: Maggie McKenzie
For Undergraduate Research Week, we’re featuring interviews with our senior honors thesis students about their work in progress.
What encouraged you to get involved in research?
To be honest, I felt like it was the natural progression of my undergraduate career. I had taken a grad level research course with Dr. Ernst of religious studies in the past and loved it, and I’ve always enjoyed (weirdly enough?) writing papers and doing research.
Briefly, what is your research about?
I am looking at how King Abdullah II of Jordan articulates the national identity of Jordan from his position as head-of-state and symbolic monarch
What do you like most about your work?
I am genuinely and enthusiastically passionate about the topic of my research, and my initial research questions about Jordanian identity were actually questions that I left Jordan wondering about after studying there in the summer of 2018. It’s been really rewarding to get to dive deeply into complex questions I truly want to explore.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from this experience (so far)?
Developing an effective methodology is key, even when one’s research is not exactly empirical. You must be able to make sense of your notes on your sources and be consistent in the way you relay and produce knowledge for your readers!
What has been the most difficult part of your research experience (so far)?
As someone who is very “deadline motivated,” I find it difficult to stay consistent in the volume of work I’m doing on my thesis day to day and week to week. Keeping on track is key to completing the project, but it’s its own challenge!
What do you want to do as a career, and do you think you might want a career that involves research?
Though I plan first to go into NGO and nonprofit work, I would like to envision a career in academia later down the line. I love the university environment and could definitely see myself returning to teach and do research later in life.