Over the course of the holidays, I worked under Professor Dan Hopkins in the Political Science department. Although he had three projects going on simultaneously, and I predominantly helped out in the “Understanding American attitudes towards the Affordable Care Act” project. It was a very broad project, but its primary purpose was exactly as it sounds- to examine the American public’s attitude towards to various healthcare acts. I did not anticipate to be caught up in the political whirlwind that was the Republican Senate’s Obamacare repeal attempts at the time of application, but I am glad that I was. It proved to be a busy and fulfilling summer.
I have always been interested in the field of political science and this summer, I finally got my first taste of the scholarship. What is the most notable, however, is that my studies are in a completely different field. PURM enabled me to pursue all areas of my interest and provide the “all-roundness” to my education. It served as a strong reminder to keep future options open and do not box myself in.
It was really cool to experience “the research experience” also. The continuous proof-reading and re-draft that goes on, and all the reviewer’s comments that I got to read showed me that there is a different side to research and not everything is just quantitative analytics, a lot of research is about conveying the results in a way that is interesting and engaging. One thing that I found mind-blowing was reading real literature reviews with papers completed by my professor. We had learnt about these in writing seminar and seeing how this knowledge is implemented was in a way mind blowing.
I have to give a huge amount of thanks to my professor for being available and I guess that was the best part about the research. PURM is incredible in the aspect that it matches first year students like me, with world-class professors. It gave me an opportunity to communicate directly with some of the brightest minds in the world. If anything came up, the professor was always there to help me overcome the issue. On top of that, the professor answered a lot of questions that were not exactly closely related to the research. I was not learning only about Healthcare Politics, but about how American politics worked in general.
Finally, I gained a wealth of technical skills by working with PURM. In particular, my R knowledge has increased greatly and this in turn helped my data analysing skills. Furthermore, I learnt to communicate with government departments and fill in their forms to get access to information. All in all, I enjoyed the work so much that I decided to stay on over the course of the school year.