My name is Evalise Pacheco, I am a junior at George Mason and this is my first semester getting involved in research. I’ve been interested in conducting qualitative research ever since I started a Mason. As an Honors student one of the first courses I took taught me how to formulate a research question and as a Criminology student, I had a particular interest in understanding inequality. I took courses that focused on inequality, discrimination, and more until I came to a course that focused on inequality in higher education, and the rest was history. Drawn by my own experiences as a Latina, I was curious to see how other Latinx students may have experienced the diversity at Mason and so I submitted a proposal to OSCAR URSP. My specific research question is, do Hispanic and Latinx students feel racially and ethnically included in higher education?
When I submitted this proposal the expectation was to conduct in-person interviews. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this was no longer an option. Therefore, for the protection of all participants, I transitioned my interviews to be conducted virtually through Zoom. Surprisingly enough, there are a lot of things that virtual interviews have made easier, for example the distribution of gift cards to participants, the audio and visual recording aspect and even the ability to schedule the interviews. I am both grateful and fortunate that my research has not been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but I can say this was not how I expected my research to be conducted. Regardless, my research has been continuing at a good pace and I am close to completing all my interviews. The next step in my research is to finish transcription of the interviews and analyze them through a process of open coding. After coding is completed, I hope to use analytical memos to look for patterns across the interviewees as a way of understanding similarities and differences in the experiences of Hispanic and Latinx students.