Campus News

The apprentices: CURO undergrads engage in experiential learning

2010-2011 CURO
The 2010-2011 CURO apprentices and their faculty mentors had a fall reception.

First-year student Brittany McGrue may be new to campus, but she is already making connections with faculty and impacting the community as an undergraduate researcher. She is one of 15 first-year students participating in the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities Apprentice program.

Under the guidance of art education faculty Carole Henry and Marilyn Wolf-Ragatz, McGrue is assisting in the development and implementation of a community arts survey. The survey will be conducted by the Athens-Clarke Public Arts Task Force, of which Wolf-Ragatz serves as chair.

“This apprenticeship has helped me to see the value of research,” said McGrue, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in art. “I knew I wasn’t a science person and working in a lab didn’t interest me. This apprenticeship has helped me see that you can do research in almost anything.”

This is the first time that Henry and Wolf-Ragatz are working with a student through CURO.

“Working with Brittany has ­provided an opportunity for us to collaborate in a more in-depth teaching experience and is making it possible to help Brittany develop as a researcher,” said Wolf-Ragatz. “Brittany has a real interest in art and introducing her to the role art plays in a community has been especially rewarding for us.”

For the past 10 years, undergraduates in their first and second years at UGA have been engaged in experiential, inquiry-based research through the CURO Apprentice program, which is open to eligible high school seniors only. Students who would like to continue for a second year must have a minimum 3.4 cumulative GPA and a satisfactory performance review. The current group of students, which includes 13 returning program participants, spends 10-12 hours a week actively engaged in research projects with their faculty mentors.

“CURO apprentices learn first hand what their professors do when they are not teaching in the classroom by joining faculty research teams to create new knowledge in their fields,” said Pamela Kleiber, associate director of the Honors Program, who coordinates CURO programs. “Faculty members invest in these young scholars so that they can eventually distinguish themselves with original contributions. It is a remarkable opportunity for these first- and second-year students at UGA.”