It’s My Party and I’ll Believe What I Want to! Broughton High School Graduate Studies Political Beliefs vs. Party Affiliation

August 11, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Ashland, VA – Across the nation many college students adamantly declare themselves Democrats or Republicans, but do their political beliefs truly coincide with their party affiliation? This summer Caroline Williams, a 2002 graduate of Broughton High School, strives to determine who is savvy and who may be making a party foul. Williams is one of many student participating the 2005 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.
A person’s connection to a political party goes further than declaring themselves Democrat or Republican. For example, Republicans tend to favor less fiscal governmental control, whereas Democrats favor more. These political beliefs are known as political ideology. But, as concepts and themes within political ideology have changed over time, a disjuncture has arisen between some individual’s political party affiliation and their core ideological beliefs. Accordingly, by surveying 100 college students in the Metro Richmond area, Williams will explore if students’ political ideas truly align with the values of the party with which they associate.
“I like that I get to learn about one particular topic and that I can potentially share my findings with others,” said Williams, who plans to attend graduate school after graduation and then pursue a career in political management. “I want to have a better understanding about political parties and the public’s understanding of ideology. SURF gives me to opportunity to do just that.”
Williams, a rising senior and political science and sociology double major, is the daughter of Tom and Jan Williams of Raleigh, N.C.
To participate in SURF, Williams had to write a proposal and apply for grant money to fund her research. Additionally, she is earning a stipend and receiving room and board. Williams is one of 28 students conducting cutting-edge research this summer in more than 10 disciplines, including chemistry, biology, psychology, physics, education, philosophy, political science, drama, music and business.
"SURF gives undergraduates the rare opportunity to revel in the freedom and independence of research that usually leads to new discoveries,” said Serge Schreiner, chair of the chemistry department and co-director of the SURF program. “Students also have to deal with the challenges and difficulties of original research, which more often than not pay off in a new work ethic. In addition, SURF students have the opportunity to share their results with the Randolph-Macon community, as well as present their work in national and international forums. It’s an amazing opportunity for students at this level.”
The SURF program was established in 1995 by the Schapiro Research Program, an endowment fund that supports scholarly undergraduate research by Randolph-Macon College students in all disciplines. For more information, please contact Holly Clark at (804) 752-3712 or or Anne Marie Lauranzon at (804) 752-7317 or Photos also are available upon request.
# # #
Founded in 1830, Randolph-Macon College is celebrating its 175th anniversary of providing excellence in undergraduate education. Located in historic Ashland just north of Richmond, Randolph-Macon College is a nationally ranked co-educational, liberal arts and sciences college with a mission of “developing the minds and character of its students.” The college achieves this mission through a combination of personal interaction and academic rigor. The student-faculty ratio is 11:1 and the average class size is 16 students. Enrollment is kept at approximately 1,150 to maintain this intimate atmosphere. Randolph-Macon College has an outstanding national reputation for its internships, science programs, study abroad and undergraduate research opportunities and offers a wealth of social and athletic programs to its students. Randolph-Macon College is the oldest United Methodist Church affiliated college in the nation, a Phi Beta Kappa college and is ranked as a Baccalaureate I college by the Carnegie Foundation and among the top 100 colleges in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.