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Cisco Gains New Skills During NSF Summer Internship

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Only 10 undergraduate political science students in the United States earned a summer 2019 National Science Foundation internship at the University of North Texas.

Arkansas Tech University’s Alex Cisco was one of those students.

“I am beyond grateful to have been one of the 10 students selected for this amazing opportunity,” said Cisco, who is from Green Forest and will be a junior at ATU during the 2019-20 academic year. “It is a highly competitive process, so the fact that I was chosen out of so many great applicants is astounding to me. I knew this meant I would need to work extra hard throughout the program to show that I was meant to be there. At times it was difficult coming from a much smaller university compared to most of the other participants. However, I fit in well with the program and made lifelong friends with the other nine students in the internship.”

The eight-week course focused on peace studies and conflict management. Cisco narrowed her research to the topic of foreign aid allocation to post-conflict countries. She will present her findings at the 78th Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago during April 2020.

Cisco learned of the National Science Foundation opportunity when Dr. Michael Rogers, ATU professor of political science, encouraged her to apply.

“I definitely learned a lot from this internship,” said Cisco. “I learned the process for doing quantitative research and how to use specialized software to analyze my data. One of the key points I discovered was that data may not always be available on the topic you want to investigate, especially in the field of political science. During the program, we also had a seminar on graduate studies and grants, like the National Science Foundation Fellowship. From this I learned how to apply for grants for graduate school and what schools are looking for in graduate applications.”

Cisco would like to pursue a doctoral degree following her graduation from Arkansas Tech, which is scheduled for May 2021.

In the meantime, she will maintain a busy schedule in and out of the classroom.

Cisco is pursuing a double major in political science and international studies with an emphasis in cultural affairs and minoring in German, history and religious studies. She is a member of University Honors, a resident assistant, a member of Alpha Sigma Tau sorority and nighttime events chair for the Student Activities Board.

“When I return to school this fall, I will be taking a senior seminar course for my political science major,” said Cisco. “During this course, I will craft a research project much like the one I completed over the summer. I am definitely going to take the valuable research skills I learned throughout the internship and apply them to the senior seminar course I will be taking this upcoming semester. I plan to take my original work from this summer and further develop it during my senior seminar course. My goal for this research project is to hopefully get it published in an academic journal.”