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Student Researches Japanese Colonies in the Dominican Republic

By Michelle Roche

Penn State College of Education undergraduate Shanya Cordis (junior-world languages, with Japanese minor) is a student in the McNair Scholars Program, which allows undergraduate students to conduct extensive research with any faculty member of their choice.  Cordis decided to work with Dr. Almeida Toribio, Associate Professor of Linguistics and Spanish Linguistics after learning that she and Dr. Toribio shared the same research interests. Currently, they are researching Japanese immigration to the Dominican Republic.

cordis.jpg “I am extremely honored to work with Dr. Toribio,” said Cordis.  “She is an impressive, successful woman and has provided continual support in my research experience. She has helped me to develop my research skills and my ability to think both independently and critically.”

Cordis plans to continue her work with Dr. Toribio in Spring 2008.  They will travel to the Dominican Republic for a couple of weeks to conduct on-site research on the linguistic ramifications of Japanese immigration to the Dominican Republic.  The research will also include studies of the remaining immigrants and their descendants who continue to reside in the Dominican Republic.

Cordis is grateful for the experiences that the McNair Scholar Program has offered her. “This experience would not have been possible without the McNair Program,” Cordis said. “This is a program that encourages, inspires, and supports students, and as such I am grateful to have been given such a wonderful opportunity to work with individuals who truly care.”

This past August, Cordis presented her research with other students at the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program Summer Research Conference at the Penn Stater Conference Hotel.  Her presentation was titled “A Historical Analysis of the Cultural, Political, and Economic Contributions of the Japanese Colonies in the Dominican Republic.”

Ronald McNair, an astronaut and physicist, grew up in an impoverished town in South Carolina.  He obtained his bachelor’s degree in physics from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and his master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He was one of seven astronauts killed on January 28, 1986 when the space shuttle Challenger exploded. 

Established by Congress in 1989, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement program (McNair Scholars Program) provides financial assistance to undergraduates and graduates in preparation for doctoral programs.  The McNair program is a Penn State TRIO program provided by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.