Prestigious research fellowship prepares senior for graduate school

KOKOMO, Ind. — After a summer of research and mentorship by professors in her field, Marisha Rigle is even more prepared to succeed as a graduate student.

Rigle, a senior at IU Kokomo, was one of four IU students selected for the Regional Campuses of Indiana University Presidential Summer Research Fellowships.

“It’s probably the best experience I’ve had as a college student,” said Rigle, from Logansport. “I was able to work with so many people, from varied backgrounds, and different education levels. It was interesting to see how their research is directly impacting people.”

She assisted with projects including analyzing data from Indiana teens surveyed about their health needs, as a partnership with the IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians, and creating curriculum for students living in residence halls with the IU Bloomington Student Wellness Alliance, a group formed to improve mental health resources for first-year students. She also met with each of the Counseling and Psychological Services professionals at the IU Health Center.

Rigle is completing degrees in sociology and psychology, and is considering specializing in counseling or industrial organizational psychologist. The fellowship gave her a chance to consider career options in public health.

“All three of the faculty members I worked with were awesome, and I learned a lot from each of them,” she said. “I appreciate the opportunity to make these connections, and they are willing to help me as I prepare for graduate school. I still talk to each of them regularly, and they are interested in my success. I am grateful and honored to have them as mentors.”

Rigle appreciates the nomination for the program by Niki Weller, IU Kokomo associate professor of sociology.

Weller called Rigle “an obvious candidate” for the fellowship, based on her campus engagement, motivation, and post-graduation goals. She said the program provided resources that will help Rigle with her future plans.

“She made invaluable connections during her summer fellowship that will undoubtedly help her during her graduate school planning,” Weller said. “Moreover, she had an opportunity to work one-on-one with faculty mentors to truly refine and enhance her research skills and interests.”

The three IU faculty members were in the IU School of Public Health: Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin, clinical professor and assistant chairperson of applied health science, Debra Herbenick, professor and director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion; and Heather Eastman-Mueller, assistant director of sexual and reproductive health at the IU Health Center.

The fellowship included a stipend, meals, and housing, giving her an opportunity to live in a residence hall, and experience life away from home.

SOURCE: News release from Indiana University Kokomo, which serves north central Indiana.