Thursday, February 14, 2013

Four Years in the Making: A Senior Perspective

Looking back on her four years at UMD, GSC president, Jaishri Shankar, shares her thoughts on her time in the Gemstone Program...

           As freshmen, we all listened to our GEMS100 section leaders and the program staff talk about the end – the end of our Gemstone careers, when we would present our projects and theses to a panel of experts as well as a public audience. Of course, as freshmen in August 2009, that day was pretty far off and unfathomable – we were all more concerned with how we would wake up for our 8am classes or manage to finish our homework AND watch all of Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family. But four years seems to have sped past us, and here we are, less than one month from that fateful day when we will hand our thesis drafts over to our discussants. March 1, 2013.
            I don’t think anyone could have ever estimated how much work and detail goes into creating a thesis, let alone an undergraduate interdisciplinary team research thesis in addition to our full-time schedules/classes and extra-curriculars! So, here’s a quick summary. For the last few months, my team has been writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing, crying, frantically emailing, writing, re-writing, looking up sources, crying because some of our sources don’t exist anymore, looking up more sources, compiling sources, writing, editing, re-writing…are you getting the picture? And if you think I’m exaggerating, I’m really not. I’m sure you got the general theme of writing, editing, researching, and procuring sources. But that’s JUST for the first three chapters – the Introduction, the Literature Review, and the Methodology. And those three chapters are not even the bulk of the thesis! Here’s what the other half of that process looks like: data analysis, data re-analysis, data analysis synthesis, graphs, charts, tables, looking up sources for results discussion, data analysis, data re-analysis…do I need to keep going?
                In short, I’m here to tell you that this is no easy task. Not that we were expecting it to be a walk in the park, but I don’t think I quite anticipated the Everest that this thesis would present. March 1 is fast-approaching, and I know my fellow Gemstone seniors and I are hard at work compiling our theses and preparing them for our discussants, friends, and family. Now that you know how hard we’ve been working (and if you didn’t read the first half of this post, here’s a summary: we’ve been working pretty darn hard!), I hope you’ll consider attending the thesis conference on April 5 & 6, 2013 and cheering us on! Check out for more details, and in the meantime, send some positive vibes and maybe a few Starbucks gift cards our way – we have long nights ahead of us!

-Jaishri Shankar, Team SWAMP, Class of 2013

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