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Research: Undergraduate thesis
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Sarah DeMartino

Sarah DeMartino

Hometown: Downingtown, PA
Major: International Politics
Minor: Environmental Inquiry

How did you learn about this opportunity?

As a student in the Schreyer Honors College I connected with my honors advisor to pursue research and conduct in-person interviews.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My thesis examines why corporations begin to seek corporate social responsibility, particularly within the cocoa industry. The funding I received helped me conduct research and gather data. Part of the data I collected was through interviews; I was able to speak with interest groups such as the International Labor Rights Forum and cocoa companies like Hershey to better understand their perspective of corporate change. I was able to hire a student to transcribe the interviews, which sped the data collection process up greatly.

"I am anticipating much more research in graduate classes and future thesis work, and this experience has provided me confidence."

How did this experience impact you academically?

I have worked on research before as an undergraduate research assistant and have conducted smaller projects for some of my classes, but have never engaged in research to this depth. My hope is that through this thesis, interest groups, corporations, media outlets, and other organizations will better understand the benefits of bringing about ethical change to the consumer world. I am very grateful for the support I have received at Penn State, for the life changing opportunities I have been presented with, and I hope that the rest of my academic career will be rich with more opportunities.

What are your career goals or plans? How did this experience impact them?

Conducting a thesis has been a rewarding experience. After graduating, my hope is to go directly into graduate school and enroll in either a PhD or Master’s program in International Relations. Exposure to research as an undergraduate has prepared me for the kind of thesis and dissertation work I’ll have to do as a graduate student. I am anticipating much more research in graduate classes and future thesis work, and this experience has provided me confidence. While I still have a lot to learn about how to conduct scholarly research, my undergraduate thesis has helped to make this a constructive experience and given me a positive outlook about future projects.

Would you recommend this experience to other liberal arts students?

Yes.

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