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Emily Nguyen

Graduation Year:

Faculty supervisor: Bryan Jones, Sean Theriault, and Maraam Dwidar
Name of project: Textbooks to Test scores: The Evolution of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

Please give a brief, simplified overview of your research project.
I examined the relationship between the President’s State of the Union address to the amount of federal mandates in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act through a keyword text analysis to further understand the relationship between presidential priorities and education policy.

Describe the tasks you engage in as part of your work.
I calculated the proportion of attention to education policy in each SOTU address per president who signed a reauthorization, created a dictionary of keywords pertaining to two categories I was examining, and compared the proportion of categorized key words to the proportion of presidential attention to education from their SOTU.

Describe what you thought college might be like before you came to UT. Did you consider research when thinking about college?
I was always curious to about research but never saw an opportunity to pursue it unless I entered a PhD program. The Pickle fellowship gave me exposure to research that was guided by wonderful mentors.

How did you get involved with your research project?
Dr. Bryan Jones encouraged his students to apply to the Pickle Undergraduate Research Program, I applied and was accepted into the course.

Do you see your project connecting with your plans for your future?
Yes and no, I took the course to see if I liked research enough to potentially pursue a PhD in the future.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do for this project?
Part of the course is traveling to Washington, D.C. to conduct qualitative research about our projects, so I was able to meet with key education leaders like the Mitch McConnell’s legislative correspondent about my research.

What advice would you give to a student who was thinking about research?
Pursue it! My experience as an undergraduate Pickle fellow taught me a lot about research but I thought the more valuable part of the course was being able to work with so many talented people in the government department.