Fall Board of Trustees Student Projects a Success

Student volunteers painted pictures, sayings and positive words of affirmation on rocks and signs for one of the projects. Photo submitted by Stephanie Bamfo.

Galloway, N.J. – During the fall 2022 term, four students were selected for the Board of Trustees Fellowship for Distinguished Students. Since then, the students have worked hard to complete their research and to begin implementing their projects. 

Stephanie Kusi Bamfo, '23, Social Work with a minor in Sociology

Project: Shop with AtlantiCare Project and Initiative

Bamfo’s original project – encouraging healthy habits among Atlantic City residents through a collaboration with AtlantiCare – transformed during her implementation. She shifted gears and explored other opportunities to engage in established community initiatives. During her internship, she had the chance to visit and tour the Chicken Bone Beach Youth Jazz Institute in Atlantic City.

When she saw the garden — which was barren compared to the mural paintings on the side of the building — Bamfo had a lightbulb moment.

“That was when I realized that I could use the funds to purchase art supplies for the community and Stockton students,” she said.

A student volunteer painting a sign for CBB
A student volunteer for Bamfo's project, painting a sign for the Chicken Bone Beach Youth Jazz Institute's garden. Photo submitted by Bamfo. 

In April, Bamfo and other students gathered and created decorations for the institute’s garden. They painted signs and rocks with beautiful colors, designs and words of affirmation, making the garden a colorful display for the community to enjoy. She anticipates continuing to work with more students to clean up and decorate the garden in the late summer/early fall.

Throughout her experience, Bamfo leaned on her support network. Her roommate, Health Science major Stephanie Fisher, was a valuable “source of encouragement” throughout.

“I just felt so discouraged when I realized that the original idea wasn’t going to work, especially since I had a vision for it that I worked hard on,” Bamfo started before smiling. “But my roommate was there for me — she even helped me haul stones and took Ubers to and from (the city) for my new project.”

Bamfo also credits the Bonner Leader program for inspiring her to apply for the fellowship.

“Honestly, I was hesitant at first about applying,” she said. “But two other leaders and Erin O’Hanlon (Communication Studies faculty member) ultimately convinced me.”

Now, Bamfo is serving as an inspiration for future cohorts.

“We have a big/little program in Bonner, and my little reached out and told me that she wanted to apply for the fellowship too.”

Gurtej Singh, a sophomore majoring in Computer Information Systems (CIS) with a minor in Applied Physics

Project: Turning Champions Inside the Classroom and Beyond

Singh’s eight-week-long project was both successful and unexpected — while he enjoys chess, he understood that selling the idea of chess lessons to middle schoolers would be a massive undertaking. However, the students at the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City surprised him.

“During lessons, kids would rush to the board to collaborate on solutions,” Singh said. “They were genuinely interested to learn.”

Chess has a reputation as a challenging game, which admittedly worried the students who weren’t convinced they could master it. However, Singh and his advisor, Tomas Itaas, worked with the students diligently by utilizing in-person lessons and websites such as chess.com.

Student participants from ACBG during Singh's project
Itaas (right) and the student participants from the AC Boys and Girls Club during Singh's project - they're wearing the T-shirts created by Singh and Itaas. Photo submitted by Singh. 

In addition to helping teach the students, Itaas supported the project by printing Singh’s lesson materials, ordering T-shirts and becoming Singh’s liaison for the Boys and Girls Club.

By the end of the eight weeks, the student participants became seasoned chess players.

“I think that they became more comfortable and confident with taking on hard tasks,” Singh said. “Everyone knew how to play despite feeling worried before. I want them to use chess as a tool to learn problem-solving, emotion management and resilience; this project was very successful, even if they, at the least, learned chess.”

All in all, Singh is glad that he applied for the fellowship and got to implement his project.

“I think BOT fellowships are a great opportunity to explore your academic and creative interests, get involved in the community and develop strong relationships with faculty members.”

Elizabeth Myers, a senior majoring in Literature with a minor in Literary Studies

Project: Assessing the Role and Value of College Newspapers

With help from her advisor, Craig Stambaugh, Instructional Technology Services and the Hughes Center, Myers was able to create and distribute a survey about how the campus community feels about The Argo, Stockton University’s student-run newspaper. Although her survey didn’t get as many responses as intended, she hopes that it will at least bring student journalism into the conversation.

“The rising suppression of the authentic student voice – which my report briefly discusses – has even influenced my own academic work since working on this project, and it's definitely something that I want to continue to explore in my final semester as editor-in-chief of The Argo this fall. If anything, I think that the findings of this project can potentially serve as a call to action for student journalists and college students in general,” Myers shared.

In addition to managing data collection and analysis, Myers also hosted a banquet to discuss her research.

Elizabeth and her friends after the banquet
Myers (center) and her friends shortly after the banquet, where Myers presented her research to students, staff and faculty. Photo submitted by Myers. 

“We had faculty, members of the Argo Board of Directors, student journalists from Stockton University and Washington College, representatives from Stockpot Literary Magazine, and some friends and family visit the AC Campus for this event, so seeing everything come together was a really neat experience,” Myers said.

Myers encourages other students to pursue the fellowship, saying it provides a great learning opportunity as long as one’s advisor is dependable and shares their passion for the project being proposed. She said it helped her develop as a student scholar.

“From personal experience, taking part in the fellowship has helped me with my time management,” Myers said. “As a commuter student who works multiple jobs and is deeply involved on campus, having that added responsibility of the fellowship allowed me to improve my sense of self-discipline while getting to do some exciting research.”

Mo Keane, '23/'24, Dual-Degree Criminal Justice program with a minor in Victimology and Victim Services

Project: Perceptions of Relationship Legitimacy

Keane started off their university journey already keen on the importance of research — they met their future project advisor, Kimberley Schanz, in the latter’s office, ready to explore undergraduate research.

Schanz helped expand Keane’s survey distribution from Stockton to the whole nation, which ended up becoming “super important” for the credibility and legitimacy of the survey results.

Their goal: to inspire other students to contribute to research like theirs.

“I’m really hoping for just more research to happen in general,” Keane said. “We’re tapping into the less discussed research on the feminist intersection of victimization that isn’t based on male perpetrators and female victims, which unfortunately erases LGBTQ+ people in those power-based personal violence situations.”

The most memorable moment for Keane was after the research was complete: Schanz helped them apply to present their research at the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice Sciences (NEACJS), which was “gratifying” for the Criminal Justice student. 

Mo Keane presenting her research during ILC this April
In addition to presenting their research nationally, Keane took to the stage during April's Inclusive Leadership Conference to discuss exploring opportunities in student research. Photo by Susan Allen. 

“People with PhDs and credentials came up to me after the presentation and told me that they would have never thought of this kind of research and that they want to get involved,” Keane shared. “I could’ve just presented numbers, but I feel that my lived experiences help ground my research, as I’m living proof of what I teach, preach and care about. Connecting on a human level and radical transparency when it comes to social welfare is so important.”

Keane can provide a million reasons for their peers to consider applying for the BOT Student Fellowship, including how valuable the experience is and seeing the impact of participating in and supporting one’s peers and their projects.

“It’s honestly motivating how Stockton cares about undergraduate student research and led initiatives,” Keane said. “I wouldn’t be where I am now without the monumental support I received, and even the application process was a great introduction to the formal side of academia and research.

“I also participated in the Human Library by Shannon Glover, which elevated minority voices in a different way. Other students shared our stories and lived experiences from beginning to end with the Stockton community, and as an underrepresented student, I felt celebrated about my experience.” 

Learn about Spring 2023's Student Fellows

Ian Bouie, director of Academic Achievement Programs, believes that this year's cohort was more than deserving of their fellowship. 

"Not only do we have a group of diverse recipients, but their projects touch upon a variety of significant topics, including STEM research, civic engagement and social justice."

Spring student fellows: Jessica Nash, Jordan Harvey, Kimberly Sanchez, Luke O'Connor, Olivia Lovett and Safah Panah.

Read more!

– Story by Loukaia Taylor

– Photos submitted