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Undergraduate's research on student perceptions of diversity at Virginia Tech wins award


Mark Managuio wins Research in Education Award From left to right: Kimberly Saunders, director of the McNair Scholars Program at the University of Delaware; Mark Managuio, senior majoring in political science and sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech; and Lynette Overby, faculty director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Experiential Learning at the University of Delaware. Photo courtesy the University of Delaware.

BLACKSBURG, Va., Oct. 26, 2012 – Mark Managuio of Norfolk, Va., a senior majoring in political science and sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, recently won the Research in Education Award at the University of Delaware’s 10th Annual National McNair Research Conference.

The McNair Scholars Program is designed to encourage and prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies, who are either first-generation college students with financial need or students from groups currently underrepresented in higher education. The program gives selected students an environment of support to gain the necessary skills to move onto graduate school, through the use of workshops, faculty mentorship, academic and career support, and a summer research experience, among other benefits.

The conference is an opportunity for McNair Scholars from across the country to present their research. Each student participated in a poster presentation, which judges evaluated for awards. 

In addition to Managuio, three other McNair Scholars from Virginia Tech presented their research: 

  • Emma-Aiyesha Ali of Springfield, Va., a senior majoring in international studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences; 
  • Matthew Davis of Centreville, Va., a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering in the College of Engineering; and 
  • Tamia Spells of Washington, D.C., a junior majoring in political science in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.

Managuio’s project focused on evaluating student perceptions of diversity at Virginia Tech. He used the summer to crunch the numbers from a recent campus climate survey, analyzing questions specifically related to diversity.

His results found students have a satisfactory view of diversity on campus and feel the university is supportive of individuals with diverse, ethnic backgrounds overall. However, Managuio explained, “As much as Virginia Tech has a focus on diversity and learning from people from other backgrounds, there may not be enough still.” He found students believe the university could be more active and intentional in creating an environment conducive to the learning and understanding of different dimensions of diversity.

Looking beyond the research project, Managuio hopes to use the results to promote change on campus by implementing new programs or initiatives.

“There seems to be a focus on diversity events in the spring,” he said. “There could be more events in the fall to give students more options to be involved and have an inclusive environment.”

“When Mark first started the McNair Scholars Program, he was unsure of what he wanted to do with his life, changing majors a few times,” said Mary Grace Campos, director of the McNair Scholars Program at Virginia Tech. “Through the program, his experiences, and research, he’s found a niche to pursue beyond his undergraduate education. That’s what we hope for all of our scholars.”

Diversity is a passion for Managuio and part of what attracted him to the McNair Scholars Program. “My own beliefs about higher education go along with the mission of McNair – preparing minority and underrepresented groups for graduate school. It’s something I push for on campus.”

Beyond academics, Managuio is on the board of the Filipino American Student Association and serves on Virginia Tech’s Commission on Equal Opportunity and Diversity. He is also an associate justice for the judicial branch of the Student Government Association.

Managuio hopes to pursue graduate study in higher education administration, either focusing on diversity and inclusion or academic and career counseling.

The Division of Undergraduate Education provides academic support, programs, and courses that touch on every aspect of the undergraduate experience, from recruitment to graduation and beyond. Its offices, units, and centers advocate for ways to create and nurture a vibrant and diverse community of engaged learners, while supporting the development of innovative and dynamic faculty. The division is committed to excellence in student access, retention, and success for the university’s 24,000 undergraduate students.