A Red Deer College graduate recently represented her school at a showcase event at Parliament Hill.
Melissa Barritt was selected by Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) to be part of the Student Innovation Showcase, which took place on February 12 and 13.
Barritt displayed a project she participated in while studying at RDC detailing what life is like for immigrant women living in Central Alberta. She says it was an honour to be selected to attend the showcase.
“It meant a great deal to me to be able to connect with people from across the country and share how college students can positively impact community,” she said.
Barritt was part of the RDC group, led by Sociology instructors Dr. Choon-Lee Chai and Dr. Krista Robson, involved in a project to assess settlement programs and services for immigrant women in central Alberta. In partnership with the Central Alberta Immigrant Women’s Association, the RDC team connects with immigrant women to learn about their settlement experiences and needs, with the intention of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of settlement programs and services.
The goal for the three-year-long project is to use the research findings to address practical issues within the community. One of the outcomes has been the development of a website that serves as a centralized information portal for all settlement services people may require.
Barritt was involved in a specific research element for the project called the Photovoice project, where she engaged immigrant women to take pictures of their settlement experiences and share their settlement stories. She first completed an extensive literature survey about the issues of settlement and integration faced by immigrants, and then she conducted in-depth interviews with research participants.
“I was able to connect and build meaningful relationships with these women,” she says. “In some cases, I was invited into their homes, so I really had an opportunity to see what their lives were like and to learn about their experiences. I could have read about the issues that immigrant women face, but this research experience allowed me to connect with the women and to provide listening support, gaining a much deeper understanding about their lives.”
Having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a University of Calgary collaborative degree offered at RDC, Barritt is now pursuing a degree in Education to fulfill her passion to become a teacher. Barritt believes that her student research experiences will benefit her teachings in many ways.
“I might have students from all backgrounds in my classroom, representing those from different cultures or socio-economic status or even refugees, and I need to show them by example what it means to accept everyone for who they are,” she says. “Because of this research experience, I will be more inclusive in my education, which will benefit my students.”
Dr. Steve Lane, Associate Vice President Academic, Research and Student Affairs at RDC, says this project demonstrates the wide variety of research activities taking place at the College.
“It’s a great example of the variety of ways that applied research can be used to help people, and it demonstrates a research niche that we have at RDC. We’re already doing this type of positive work, and we look forward to expanding these types of opportunities in the future.”
(Red Deer College)
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