Two SURP Interns Discuss Why They Chose U.Va. for Research and More


The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) is a rigorous 10-week internship program funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences as part of the Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST) pre-doctoral fellowship program.

SURP provides undergraduates from underrepresented populations with valuable research and professional development experiences under the guidance of U.Va. Faculty. Interns are mentored by faculty and graduate student researchers while conducting research, attending workshops, taking GRE preparation courses, and presenting at a professional conference.

The Curry School of Education is continuing a Question and Answer series with this cohort’s SURP interns that will be released throughout the summer. This series will highlight the SURP program, and the interns’ experiences, interests, and the research.

The interns highlighted here are working primarily with Nancy Deutsch, Ph.D, an associate professor and Valerie Futch, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at the Curry School of Education and Youth-Nex. The research project entitled “Who Builds the Village? Examining Youth-Adult Relationships Across Contexts and Time” examines after-school programs and schools as important settings for the formation of youth-adult relationships.

Jasmine Alexander-Brookings attends the University of Connecticut with an Individualized Major in Urban Youth Development and a minor in Africana Studies. Her upcoming senior thesis examines culturally relevant pedagogy and specifically how incorporating the principles of Hip Hop culture affect student motivation, educational engagement and student outcomes.

Jasmine Alexander-BrookingsQuestion: Why did you choose to participate in SURP?

Alexander-Brookings: In the future I hope to be working in communities as an organizer or planner that is using education as a way to engage and empower young people. It is important that work is based on policy and research.  Any community program should be informed by policy, which is ultimately going to be informed by research. So I see SURP as a space that helps me understand research, which I’ve realized is really important. 

Question: What are you most looking forward this summer with SURP?

Alexander-Brookings: I am really excited to have the opportunity to participate in the faculty lunches once a week. I love talking to people and getting a sense of their experiences and journey. All the faculty have such a different story and such a different path that has got them all to educational research. Just having the opportunity to have those conversations is helpful, because I learn more about myself and more about what it is I want to do and where it is I want to go.

Ashley Metelus attends the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee with a major in Interdisciplinary Social Science and with concentrations in History and Psychology. Her interest in educational research is more so targeted to the social and cultural perspective of educational research.

Ashley MetelusQuestion: What are you hoping to get out of SURP this summer?

Metelus: I really want to be more fluent in statistically software and quantitative data. I’m excited to examine whole datasets and investigate important research questions. I’ve done some qualitative analyses before but want more experience with looking at numbers and crunching data.

Question: How do you think SURP will impact or shape your future ambitions?

Metelus: I am hoping to narrow down what program I want to go into for graduate school. I am listening to faculty and other SURP interns to figure out whether I want to focus on strictly educational research or psychology with incorporating education. The GRE is definitely a part of getting into graduate school too, so I am very excited to be taking the GRE preparation course.

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Alexander-Brookings and Metelus are the first group of SURP interns interviewed in the 2015 series.