Rachel Bargoot '19, Sociology, Wins Rising Researcher Award
UMass Amherst continues to attract truly remarkable students. The campus’s varied opportunities allow students to challenge convention, think in new ways, and create change instead of waiting for it. This semester we celebrate six students with the Rising Researcher Award in recognition of their demonstrated ingenuity and impact in their fields of study.
Sociology major and Commonwealth Honors College student, Rachel Bargoot ’19, is a “real star” in both her research activities and undergraduate program according to her advisor Katherine Fabel. Working on a six-person team of graduate students under the direction of sociology Professor Naomi Gerstel, Bargoot is investigating the components that influence family involvement in higher education and the subsequent impact on students.
The institutional portion of her research was to chronicle college personnel’s interactions and relationships with families of students. As she helped interview participants, transcribed, and coded data, she began to develop her own ideas about research on the interpretation and implementation of the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) on a college campus and its effects on the student experience.
The crux of her analysis lies within these moments of conflict, where she analyzes which strategies university personnel employ to diffuse conflict, especially around employing and explaining FERPA, says Bargoot.
Her thesis argues that parents have come to understand themselves as primary consumers of education. “This issue pertains especially to parents of students who have provided significant financial investment. The consumer culture is reinforced by colleges’ attempts to advertise their programs to families,” says Bargoot. She found that parents and families are beginning to request more information about their students after matriculation, resulting in increased combative interactions between families and college personnel when faced with FERPA constraints.
"This project and the research that led to it have been the cornerstone of my undergraduate experience at UMass Amherst,” says Bargoot.
“Rachel is interested in going on to study higher education,” says Fabel. “She has incorporated this interest into her entire student pathway, immersing herself in learning more about higher ed as an institution; she is an RA, a sociology peer advisor, and a university hearing board member for the Dean of Students Office. She also did a fascinating presentation on FERPA in my Sociology of Higher Education class (which is quite a feat). Rachel is a passionate student with a real dedication to her research and to better understanding and improving the experience of all college students,” adds Fabel.