While Pioneer is an excellent way to kick off a career in academic research, conducting research in Pioneer’s rigorous system is not just for students considering a career in research or academia. Pioneer scholars come to the program with diverse academic and career goals, but all are driven by a desire to push themselves to contribute to their field with new knowledge at the highest standards of academic achievement, originality, and integrity. Rather than simply asking students to prepare a project around a topic or conduct a literature review, Pioneer’s academic system requires each scholar to produce a full-length independent research paper, while providing the comprehensive support students need to meet its high standards for creativity, authenticity, and depth of analysis. Pioneer’s rigorous standards and support system work together to provide a uniquely valuable experience for highly motivated students hoping to deepen their knowledge in a subject while developing skills of time management, critical reasoning and written communication. The skills Pioneer scholars develop while conducting research in Pioneer’s rigorous academic system prepare them not only for further research opportunities but also for a broad range of academic and career paths.
Neha, a Pioneer scholar from the United States (international relations, 2019), is majoring in molecular biology at college and intends to become a medical doctor. Despite her interest in STEM, Neha applied to the international relations research concentration at Pioneer. Doing research in this field both helped her to become a more well-rounded person and to develop skills that she will apply in her future career in medicine. Neha wrote her paper on social and economic risk factors in Venezuela, but at first she had trouble narrowing down her subject. “The special problem I faced was deciding, in a myriad of problems, which ones are the biggest?” she says. Revising her paper with her faculty mentor improved her ability to prioritize problems, which is a skill that has applications in any workplace. “I wrote a first draft that was extremely long, but my [Pioneer faculty mentor] helped me identify which points were the most significant. From that experience, I learned how to pick and choose what is the most significant. This skill is very important, because we are always going to be faced with lots of different problems in any work space. There is never going to be just one thing happening at a time. The world is very dynamic, and for that reason we are going to be handed multiple things all at once. This skill that I developed was to be able to identify and prioritize problems.Working in the healthcare system, I might need to identify which disease needs to be treated first or which economic issue needs to be dealt with,” she explains.
Seungmin (business, 2019), a Pioneer scholar from South Korea, a young entrepreneur who participated in the Pioneer research program to learn more about business and marketing from an academic perspective. “I was interested in this concentration because I have my own stationary line. Because I was running a small business, I wanted to learn more academic things about marketing,” she explains. Seungmin did research on social media marketing strategy, which she will apply to her own small business. Furthermore, as a non-native English speaker, she says that the process of revising a research paper with the support of Pioneer’s writing tutors gave her “courage and experience.”
Andrew (history, 2020), a Pioneer scholar from the United States, is a budding filmmaker. In Andrew’s case, humanities research provided an opportunity to become more well-rounded and knowledgeable in a subject he is genuinely interested in. “I’m a filmmaker. My dream job would be the editor of Pixar studios. But I am also really interested in the humanities. Film, you can always learn on set, while you’re in the industry, but I feel like actually applying the knowledge you learn in the humanities is much more important and much more rich,” he says. His research on the notion of futurism in Christianity opened the door for personal as well as academic exploration; he notes that while he identifies as Christian himself, he had never actively studied religion. Furthermore, the rigor of Pioneer’s research program forced Andrew to learn time management skills.
Lal (economics, 2019), a Pioneer scholar from Turkey, used her Pioneer experience to better understand a phenomenon in her own community and sharpen her critical thinking skills. After volunteering with Syrian refugees, she was interested in researching immigration. “I was watching the news, I knew what immigration was and I knew it was a very hot topic, but I just didn’t know there were professors all around the world looking into this matter from a very mathematical and empirical standpoint. Because especially in Turkey we had a lot of immigration and a lot of refugee crises, and this was always talked about during dinner chit-chat, everyone had an opinion. Everyone either said it was a good thing or a bad thing, but nobody actually gave me a good answer about why it was good or why it was bad. They were just telling me about the news, but there was no basis to their argument,” Lal explains. In particular, Lal had often heard the assertion that increased immigration from Syria had led to inflation of consumer goods prices. Her research at Pioneer used empirical data to assess this claim, ultimately finding it to be unfounded. This experience empowered Lal to question commonly held beliefs and a method to evaluate claims objectively, a skill she can apply to future research as well as any future academic, personal, or professional goal. .
The Pioneer research program creates well-rounded individuals with skills suited to any number of career paths. In conducting original research as high school students, Pioneer scholars push themselves and develop new skills. Pioneer scholars learn to prioritize tasks, think critically, and communicate effectively. This is made possible by Pioneer’s academic system, which sets high standards for Pioneer scholars while providing the support they need to succeed.