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Travis Boyce

Travis BoyceField: Africana Studies/Social Sciences
SR-EIP: Yale University (2001)
Undergrad: Claflin University (2002)
Graduate School: Ohio University (History MA, 2004/Cultural Studies in Education PhD, 2009)
Current Position: Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Social Sciences, University of Northern Colorado

Could you talk about any memorable experiences from your summer research at Yale?
I would have to say that the most memorable experience was developing relationships with my fellow colleagues/students.  I had a chance to meet students from all over the country.  I enjoyed being surrounded by a diverse group of students from various backgrounds and academic disciplines.  Though our interests varied, we were all united with one goal in mind-pursuing careers in research. What skills were you able to apply to your collegiate work upon returning to your undergraduate institution?
As an honors student at Claflin University, I was required to complete an undergraduate thesis.  Conducting research through the SR-EIP granted me experiences that paralleled those I had encountered while writing my thesis.

Can you talk about how your summer experience prepared you for graduate school?
I emphasize, as a professor, how important it is for undergraduates to engage in original research of some sort.  I believe that doing so demonstrates to graduate admissions committees and employers alike that one can work independently and has the necessary skills to be a critical thinker and scholar.  In that regard, The Leadership Alliance prepared me for that.   Having the opportunity to complete primary research was great.  Additionally, I credit my experience with providing me exposure to graduate level work.  I realized that the expectations were much higher in graduate school.

Can you talk about the role of mentorship in your career?
Mentorship, to me, is two-fold.  On one hand, mentees must consider a mentorship based on proximity to the mentor and, of course, the similarity of research interests.  On the other hand, I think it’s important, as a faculty member/mentor, that one reaches out to students who display a genuine desire to pursue more advanced degrees in higher education.  The most important aspect of mentorship is establishing lifelong mentorships, through which both parties remain connected beyond receipt of the degree well into the mentee’s professional career.

What advice would you give to this year’s Leadership Alliance participants?
Students should begin to think about topics for their dissertation with regard to their area of focus.  For me, it proved beneficial to tailor my term papers toward my dissertation.  Not only was I well versed in the subject matter, but it also made the process a bit easier for me.

When conducting research and when writing, think about the big picture.  The findings are great, but what are the future implications of those findings?  I believe it to be a very smart move to even continue to do more research based out of what you had done with the Leadership Alliance.

Be flexible in your career endeavors.  While a PhD is a research degree, earning one doesn’t limit you to only research.  I would also recommend to students, given the present state of the economy, to consider pursuing a professional master’s degree as an additional option.  I believe that, coupled together, a professional master’s degree and doctoral degree make an applicant more marketable and provide more career options.

Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
It is of the utmost importance that students pursue a program in which they are certain that they are comfortable.  Because your research topic should be representative of your passion for a particular research area/idea, the program you’re in should offer you the faculty and funding support that you need to nurture that interest.

It’s never too late to begin writing your dissertation.  It pays to work hard, but it’s also wise to work smart.  Make every research endeavor count toward completion of your dissertation.

As scholar’s we tend to be overachievers in search of ultimate perfection.  The dissertation should, first, be doable in order to prevent life as a perpetual graduate student.  It’s one of your first published pieces and should be put in that perspective.  Once you’ve graduated, you can perfect your work by conducting further research that branches out from the foundation that you’ve created.