The process of applying for scholarships when you’re a senior in high school is basically a second job, or a third job if you already have a job, which I did. I must have applied for around two hundred of them before I actually managed to get anything of note. I mean, it’s possible to get around two hundred dollars from some places, but that’s just going to manage to help pay for a few textbooks. The TECHNE organization was actually able to give me some real money for school, and I was able to work on a great research project as a result.
I’ve always been really interested in history, particularly the history of Ireland. I always found it fascinating that there could be such major differences in one country, especially given the fact that half of Ireland was more or less a theocracy in the twentieth century. You hear stories from that part of the world that make you think you’re reading about the Middle Ages. Studying twentieth century Ireland is actually like studying medieval times, except you’re able to get solid primary sources and you’re able to interview the people who were actually there.
For my research, I managed to focus on Northern Ireland as it was during the Troubles. I looked into the issue from many different angles, including the actual geographical and spatial division, the nature of the political resistance, the sectarian issues, and the sense of belonging that different members of the populace had or did not have.
My professors were able to help me out with the research, and they helped to make it a really unforgettable experience. I mean, doing research is relatively easy these days thanks to all of the different online databases and such. However, if you really want to be able to get solid primary sources that bring you back to the root of the issues, you need to go further than that.
I was actually able to talk to some people who were directly involved in the conflict thanks to some of the connections that my professors have. I was able to get in contact from the museums from that part of the world, and I was on the phone with Irish museum curators and experts. I was interested in getting the whole story about the conflict, so I was careful to research all of the different sects, as well as the political factors that led to the division in the first place.
Naturally, my professors were pretty much available all the time for whenever I really wanted to talk to them about political issues or anything else related to the project. They were even there when I basically just wanted a political discussion for fun or to clarify my thoughts. I was so grateful afterwards that I decided to buy all of my professors gifts as a gesture of goodwill. The research was an unforgettable experience, and I owe it all to my professors and the TECHNE organization.