I truly believe being named the NASPA Foundation 2018 Melvene D. Hardee Dissertation of the Year Award winner was the highlight of my year as well as the highlight of my doctoral career. Achieving this recognition as well as being presented a monetary award was not only validation that I had constructed quality, award-worthy work, but also confirmation that my research on the impacts of family culture on the racial identity of African American college students is important and timely. I have to admit, when I was writing my dissertation or even conducting the research, I did not intend to seek out awards for this work. It was not until I had received the email soliciting applications for the second or third time that I decided to submit my dissertation for the award; I am beyond grateful that I did.
As a recipient of the award, I was afforded the chance to attend the NASPA Annual Conference in Philadelphia and present my work to attendees through a complimentary registration. This was a tremendous opportunity as it was the first time I had facilitated a presentation at a national conference. This exposure to questions, feedback, praise, timely information, and camaraderie further supported my research as well as my professional development.
I am so very thankful that this type of award is offered. This award is a welcome, culminating opportunity after one puts so much time and energy into a significant project such as a dissertation. I am very grateful to the donors who make this award possible, as well as the committee members who take time out to read applications and make the tough decision of choosing the recipient. Without receiving this award and distinction, I may not ever know the impact my dissertation research has had on others and the academic excellence my work represents. If there is a doubt that this award has a significant impact on the recipients, their perception of their abilities, or their academic aspirations, I am a testament that the impact is powerful.
LaTrina Parker, P-16 Initiative Coordinator, Service Learning Academy, University of Nebraska at Omaha
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