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Alyssa Ong

Alumni Spotlight | March 2020

KU major: Accounting and Finance, Class of 2014

Current occupation: Assistant Professor of Accounting - Pepperdine University

Research mentors while at KU: Kala Stroup, Catherine Schwoerer

Describe the undergraduate research/creative experience that you had while at KU: As a sophomore, I worked on a research project looking at KU's Alternative Breaks organization and other Alternative Breaks organizations across the country to study best practices and recommend new policies for KU's Alternative Breaks organization. I was able to publish that paper in the Undergraduate Research Journal. As a junior, I started a research project looking at the impact of Alternative Breaks on students' lives compared to students who stay at home/on campus over break and students who went on party breaks.


Q: What do you think was the most important thing you learned while doing undergraduate research? 

A: I learned how to juggle my own research projects with the projects from the professors I worked for, my classes, my involvement on campus, and my personal life. I had to be very organized to keep all the balls in the air.


Q: What advice do you have for undergraduates who might be interested in doing research or creative scholarship?

A: Find a professor (or two) who will be interested in mentoring you through the process. It is okay if you don't have what you think is a groundbreaking idea first. If research is something you are interested in, go ahead and talk to the professors first. Sometimes ideas come from talking to them and reading papers that they recommend. Don't be afraid to seek them out first.


Q: Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation?  How so?

A: The research skills I learned through my own projects gave me a good idea of the different research methods in the field. It also gave me exposure to literature in organizational behavior and psychology literature. I went straight into a Ph.D. program in Accounting after graduating from KU and I am now doing research every day as a tenure-track faculty member at Pepperdine University. My own experience as an undergraduate researcher also helps me better mentor my students interested in undergraduate research. I understand the many things they have to juggle and can help implement plans to keep them going with their project.


Q: Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate from KU. Having been in those shoes, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? Do you have any advice?

A: If you enjoy doing research, a doctoral program might be a good fit for you!

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