The Apprentice Program of Your Communication Dreams

Research Apprentice Program (RAP) cultivates future communication researchers by providing hands-on experience with cutting-edge projects.

October 19, 2023
Photo of Shaylee Anderson and their National Honor Society for the National Communication Association award.
Photo of Shaylee Anderson and their National Honor Society for the National Communication Association award.

The Research Apprentice Program (RAP) at San Diego State University's School of Communication is making waves in the academic world, providing opportunities for fourth-year undergraduates to work alongside graduate students and faculty members on cutting-edge research projects.

Conducted by Communication Associate Professor Rachael Record and School of Communication Director Heather Canary, the RAP matches students with faculty mentors who guide them through the entire fall semester.

“The program is designed for students looking for more hands-on experience and those curious about the research side of the communication discipline," says Record, "It's a way for them to build relationships with faculty members and explore the various types of research in the field."

Participants in the RAP program are involved in a wide range of projects covering many aspects of the communication field. They collaborate on these projects and present their work at prestigious events like the SDSU Student Research Symposium (S3) and the Western States Convention of Communication. 

Two former RAP students are Shaylee Anderson and Katya Azzam. Anderson was given the opportunity to present her outstanding work at the Western States Communication Association Undergraduate Scholars Research Conference where she won a National Honor Society for the National Communication Association award for her research.

The Research Apprentice Program helped me in ways that I couldn't have previously imagined. I got to work with and learn from faculty members on a much more personal level than my studies had previously allowed, and it also granted me a new sense of comradery with the other students in the program,” said Anderson.

The Research Apprentice Program helped cultivate my love for research, which ultimately led me to graduate school,” said Azzam.. I have had the honor of continuing to work with my RAP mentor (Dr. Record) throughout grad school as well!”

Today, both Azzam and Anderson continue their research journey as master’s students at the SDSU School of Communication. Their inspiring stories are what motivate students like Miranda Mergen, a current SDSU student enrolled in the Research Apprentice Program. 

"Through working alongside my mentor, I have gained valuable insights into the research process which has made me better equipped to pursue my future academic goals,” said Mergens, “I have been able to turn my theoretical knowledge into practical application, which has allowed me to instill confidence in my abilities as a researcher."

While the program runs in the fall, many students continue working with their faculty mentors into the spring semester. This continuity allows students to deepen their research experience and contribute to ongoing projects.

"While many RAP participants consider graduate programs, some take their research skills to the job market or apply them to other fields," Canary said. "Our goal is to empower students with research skills that are valuable in any career."

The School of Communication looks for RAP applicants with a genuine interest in research. Eligible students are typically seniors who have completed relevant coursework and have a demonstrated aptitude for research.

For more information, visit the  Research Apprentice Program (RAP) on the School of Communication website.