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Renee Booker

“9/11 through the Eyes of the Millennial Generation”

Renee Booker

This research will collect various experiences and recollections from people who were children at the time of 9/11 in order to look at how those attacks were a common point of awakening among the members of my generation. The research also plans to look at how the attacks continue to affect those individuals today. Psychologists have studied children’s reactions to this trauma, and there have been a number of both academic and news articles written in relation to this subject. However, the approach and format for this project is unique. I plan to take elements of the recollections collected, as well as my own, and combine them into a nonfiction book. This book would be in the form of a narrative timeline which would combine the factual/technical elements of that day (significant times, events, etc.) with the personal experiences collected. The aim of this book is to appeal to a wide range of ages, from middle school-aged children through the Millennial Generation. An effect of the timeline will emphasize the enormous impact that one single day can have on an entire generation.

Who is your mentor for your research project?
Dr. Michele Osherow, Associate Professor of English

How did you arrange to work with this person?
When I first transferred to UMBC, I was assigned to Dr. Osherow for academic advising. She was the one who first told me about the Undergraduate Research Award and encouraged me to apply for it. When it came time to choose a mentor, there was no better choice for me. Her knowledge of literature, as well as her previous experiences with the research programs, has been invaluable in helping me decide on the specifics of my project.

How did you know this was the project you wanted to do?
The idea for this project stemmed from an essay that I wrote for one of my classes here at UMBC. We were asked to write about a moment in our lives that changed how we saw the world. I wrote about my recollections of September 11, 2001, and what it was like to experience it as a child. This essay resonated with many people, both inside my class and out. They began telling me their own recollections of September 11th and how it affected them. Seeing how much of an impact this had made, not only on people from my generation but others as well, made me realize that this was what I wanted my research topic to be.

What academic background did you have before you applied for the URA?
Much of my academic background came from my previous classes at UMBC. For instance, I learned proper interviewing techniques during my Feature Writing class, which has aided in the process of interviewing participants. Also, many of my classes have required me to utilize and expand my writing skills, which is a large part of my final project.

Was the application difficult to do?
Completing the application was difficult, but most of the difficulty didn’t come from the application itself. For me, the most difficult part was trying to describe my project in a coherent way. I wanted to make my project clear and realistic, but I was trying to describe something that existed only in my mind. Trying to convey those ideas accurately in words proved to be more difficult than I had anticipated.

How much did your mentor help you with the application?
Dr. Osherow helped me a great deal with my application. She was honest about what was and was not clear, and helped me reword my descriptions to best highlight my project. She coached me on what was expected of an undergraduate research application, and that aided greatly towards the successful completion of mine.

What has been the hardest part about your research?
The most difficult part for me has been narrowing down the information I’ve received. Given the subject nature of my research and how much it affected every American, I’ve received a lot of emotional and detailed stories from people. Between all of those vivid details, it’s been difficult to narrow down which ones to use in my final project. Although, I will say that this is a very good problem to have.

What was the most unexpected thing?
The most unexpected thing I have encountered has been the willingness of people to share every detail of their stories with me. September 11th was a very emotional and tragic day for all Americans. Because of this, I thought that I may have trouble finding people willing to share their stories, as asking people to relive those painful memories can be taxing. Contrary to this, I have had many people who have readily done so, and have expressed a desire to be a continued part of this project. I have been honored that so many people have been willing to do so.

What else are you involved in on campus?
Besides research, I am also a staff writer for The Retriever Weekly. I have recently become involved with UMBC’s creative arts journal, Bartleby as well.

What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?
My advice would be for them to just try it. Take the leap. Even if you think that there is no way your project will be chosen. When I first heard about this program, I thought that my kind of project was not what they were looking for. I’m very glad that I didn’t keep that frame of mind. This program accepts a wide range of majors and ideas, and really highlights the diverse group of students we have on campus. It’s an amazing opportunity, but you will never know until you decide to just try it.

Also, don’t doubt the merits of your project. Even if your project is very different than many others, don’t let that discourage you. You’re bringing your own perspectives and ideas to the table, and they deserve to be heard just as much as everyone else’s ideas do.

Did you transfer to UMBC from another institution? Where?
I transferred to UMBC from Anne Arundel Community College.


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