Madison Tyler, a second-year English and textual studies and African American studies double major in the College of Arts and Sciences was recently accepted to the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill's Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP), a competitive, paid summer fellowship designed to foster the entrance of talented students from diverse backgrounds within the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts into Ph.D. programs and faculty positions in U.S. colleges and universities. Read our interview with Madison below and learn more about what inspired her to apply!
How did you first learn about UNC’s Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP)?
I learned about UNC's Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program from three different people in the Syracuse University community – from Professor Roger Hallas and Professor Coran Klaver in the English department (I've taken classes with them both and Prof. Hallas is my Film Screen Studies major advisor), and also from Jolynn Parker in CFSA. I got an email from Jolynn after my professors sent me an email about the opportunity and thought "Well, this feels like a sign from the universe that I should apply!"
Why did you ultimately choose to apply?
I chose to apply to MURAP not only because MURAP is an incredible academic and professional opportunity but also because it's as a program that intentionally seeks to support and cultivate aspiring leaders from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in the academy, I know both the work that I do, and myself, will be valued.
What support did you seek from SU while you were applying?
I received so much support from the resources SU has made available to me. Jolynn was my guiding force throughout the application process. Not only did she go through four rounds of edits for the essays I had to write for the application, but she also coached me through a mock-interview a day before my actual interview. Jolynn's specific knowledge of MURAP helped me communicate my experiences, goals, and strengths in a way that was genuine but also aligned with MURAP's mission. I couldn't have done it with without her.
I'm also so grateful for my advisor and mentor Professor Hallas, who wrote me a wonderful recommendation, offered notes on my application essays, and advised me on which graduate programs would be a fit for me, since in the MURAP application I had to talk about the graduate degree programs I'd apply to. He was also just very encouraging throughout the process. I'm grateful for Professor Joan Bryant in the African American Studies department for writing a recommendation letter as well! The support of my professors and their belief in my potential means so much to me and keeps me going.
What do you hope to gain from participating in MURAP? What are you most looking forward to about the program?
I'm really looking forward to working with my UNC-Chapel Hill faculty mentor, Dr. Charlene Regester, to develop my own research project in the African American Studies and cinema studies disciplines. I haven't done a research project of this magnitude yet, so I'm eager to learn specific research skills in the humanities and get practical experience applying them to my project. From a professional standpoint, I'm also excited about the opportunity to learn from Dr. Regester's career experience as an academic. I hope to gain networking skills, professional development opportunities, and to improve my writing through the many workshops MURAP offers during the program. Overall, I'm looking forward to my intellectual growth as an aspiring scholar.
What are your future goals?
My future goals are to merge my passions for scholarship in African American Studies and Film Screen Studies with my passion for the craft of filmmaking. Short-term, I'm working towards the goal of receiving a grant from SOURCE to develop my own short documentary. Moving forward, I'm also particularly interested in exploring ways to combine scholarship and filmmaking with community engagement. I'm only a sophomore and I know graduation is approaching (though it feels so far away at the same time), but currently my long-term goals are to attend graduate school and one day become a multi-hyphenate scholar-filmmaker-public intellectual. I feel confident that my experience at MURAP and here at SU will prepare me for the myriad of academic and creative career goals I have.