PPT slide with Kelsey Dearing's Gray Award from SURCA

Kelsey Dearing wins SURCA Award

By: Max Ciot

This year, thirty-three Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (SURCA) awards were given out to Washington State University undergraduates including Digital Technology and Culture senior Kelsey Dearing.

At SURCA, WSU students can present their work or research to a panel of judges and showcase what they are working on. During the awarding process, judges have a rubric, and highest scores during the judging process based on this rubric will receive either the top-level Crimson award or the secondary-level Gray award. Judgement is based on the content of the work, its relation to previous research, its contemporary relevance, the process of its creation, and the methodology the creator used. Each undergraduate researcher has a mentor whom which they work with in order to go through the process of their research and presentation.

Kelsey, mentored by Communication faculty, Dr. Amanda Boyd, was awarded a Gray award for her research proposal on “Helping Washington State University Faculty and Staff Support and Respond to Students in Distress.” Her research focused around figuring out how to help WSU faculty and staff support and respond to students struggling with their mental health. She also focused on how comfortable WSU staff feel on helping students in distress and how to receive support to further help students if further assistance is required.

During her research, Kelsey sent out surveys to elicit responses from Edward R. Murrow College of Communication faculty and staff members. She asked questions such as what they already knew, what resources they were familiar with, and if they felt equipped to help students. Kelsey recently got her results back and is diligently figuring out how her next step on how to analyze her data. She will also have to present her findings to the Edward. R. Murrow College of Communication leadership board. This will enable the department to study their results and use them to figure out what steps to implement to help students in distress.

Throughout her time in the DTC program, Kelsey has also geared her projects towards mental health. One example of such project is her Fall of 2019 animation short film, The First Step. Kelsey and another student, Lilly Williams created this short to portray what goes on in the minds of two characters that are dealing with anxiety. The short animation also shows us that, even when support is received, that is not the end of anxiety.

Kelsey is currently a senior in the Digital Technology and Culture program and will graduate in May. Her goal for the future is to make an impact on the mental health community. She would like to make informational videos on mental health for the general public. Kelsey believes everyone should learn about mental health as it is something that everyone is impacted by, and she would wish to make information on mental health more accessible. Her pursuit in her goal is so passionate that she is okay with not using her skills gained in the DTC program towards impacting communities as she would like to work in this field no matter the job.

Congratulations on your award, Kelsey, and best of luck in your future endeavors!