RACHEL HARGRAVE Weddington, NC Sophomore, English Mentor: Abby Walker For Rachel, home is connected to how we speak. In the Speech Lab at Virginia Tech, she studies southern Appalachian dialects and how certain pronunciations connect to one’s sense of home and regional identity. “When people think or talk about home, they are more likely to talk like where they are from,” said Rachel. “If you’re proud of where you come from, and that’s your community and who you are, then you’re more likely to go into that accent.” The budding linguist and creative writer ultimately hopes to use her research to disconnect assumptions and stereotypes, such as a lack of education, that are sometimes associated with certain accents.
CONNOR BROWN Bedford, VA Junior, Biochemistry Mentor: Otto Schwake Before coming to Virginia Tech, Connor received an associate’s degree in science from Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, VA. While there, he gained authentic research experience in microbiology by developing protocol, collecting data, and performing laboratory experiments as part of a collaboration between the college and Virginia Tech. This experience ignited his interest in higher education and research, so he transferred to Virginia Tech. He now continues this work in Blacksburg, but plans to invite other community college students to participate along with him so they too can benefit from real experience. “I would not be where I am, or going where I’m going, without it,” Connor said. 12