Meet the Latest AACRAO Research Grant Recipient

October 17, 2022
  • Grants and Scholarships
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  • AACRAO Research Grants
Individual studying on a laptop.

Candice Wilson-Stykes, doctoral candidate and independent researcher, is the 2022 recipient of the AACRAO Research Grant. The grant consists of a $2000 stipend for usage toward the completion of an advanced degree and the development of a draft academic research article. Ms. Wilson-Stykes is undertaking her Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Houston.

Ms. Wilson-Stykes resides in Spring, Texas, and has had a passion for education for as long as she can remember. From playing pretend as a teacher at eight years old, all the way to today as she works through her dissertation. Speaking on how her time as an undergraduate impacted her research Ms. Wilson-Stykes said:

I actually had a really hard time in undergrad. But I learned some things too and I thought, well, I've learned some stuff, let me use this to help other people. So I spend a lot of my time mostly working with students as they transition into college.

That's always been really important to me and that's what I spend most of my professional career focused on. Thinking about what I have observed about higher education and what I can research, what kind of questions I can ask, that's kind of my journey.

Ms. Wilson-Stykes' research focuses on expectations for student outcomes after failing a course. Additionally, she explores the experience of failing courses from the perspective of undergraduates at a public, regional university who failed a course that they later passed. Elaborating on why she chose this area for her research Ms. Wilson-Stykes said:

It was really a personal interest that became a research projectI've had this question for so long and I really wanted to understand it because I couldn't help those students the way that I wanted to, but maybe I can put some work out in the world that can help me in the future or people like me help students navigate that experience. So it was really a personal interest that became a research project.

I think one of the primary purposes of my work is to reconcile these sorts of negative experiences with failure and also some of the negative outcomes. Failure is often associated with students dropping out of college, right? It's associated with some really devastating emotional outcomes. It's associated with losing financial aid.

How do you reconcile that with also some very positive outcomes? When students experience personal growth and development, gain a new sense of self-confidence, or expand their networks of support. The purpose of my work is to try to understand how to reconcile those two things. And I thought, well, If I can just understand what failure is at the very core of it, what it is to experience a course failure, then maybe I can make sense of why we have such divergent outcomes and beliefs and perspectives about academic course failure.

Once her work is complete, Ms. Wilson-Stykes intends to use the AACRAO Research Grant to assist in transforming her dissertation into something more approachable for a non-academic audience. She'll also use the grant to attend and present her work at the upcoming 108th AACRAO Annual Meeting in Aurora, Colorado. 

For those interested in applying for the AACRAO Research Grant, the 2022-2023 application process begins on December 5, 2022.