Many students who have presented their scholarly work at the Undergraduate Scholars Forum (USF) share that they gained valuable skills from the experience. Mary Cristello, a senior in the Early Childhood Special Education program, shared her story in order to encourage other students to participate during 2014.
Mary Cristello won the Dean’s Award for her presentation
“Bilingualism and Its Impact on Education.” Mary is currently a senior
in the Early Childhood Special Education program in the College of Education
and Educational Technology.
Cristello originally began her research as an assignment for
a language development course. She expanded upon that work during the following
year, and then presented her finished product as an oral presentation at the
2013 USF. She researched the topic and organized her findings with support from
her advisor, Kelly Paquette, and her other professors in the College of
Cristello’s research focused on examining the linguistic and
cognitive effects of learning two languages. Through reading the literature,
she learned that knowing one language can help you learn a second language, and
that knowing more than one language improves cognitive abilities and executive
functioning. Cristello interviewed three individuals who are bilingual for her
project who each shared personal and professional benefits of being bilingual.
Cristello reports that doing this project required considerable
work beyond her other classes. So why did Cristello choose to pursue it? Her
answer was that she loves learning about different languages and cultures and
she was curious about the effects of being bilingual. She also wanted to learn
more about the research process, develop her presentation skills, and become
more knowledgeable about her field.
After the forum, Cristello reported that she found her
research very rewarding and she gained public speaking and organizational
skills by participating in the Undergraduate Scholars Forum. Receiving the
Dean’s Award was a fantastic achievement to list in her resume. Cristello
encourages other undergraduate students to find a topic of interest and develop
a project. She knows that other students
would “gain valuable skills and experiences by participating in the
Undergraduate Scholars Forum!”