As part of her scholarship and support program for her students, Eastern Mediterranean University through her faculties provide Student and Research Assistant positions to undergraduate and graduate students respectively. Research Assistant positions can be either Part time or Full time. Full time Research Assistants have the benefit to enjoy an exemption from tuition fee while Part time Research Assistants only pay half of their tuition fee.
A research assistant is a student researcher employed, by a university or a research institute, for the purpose of assisting in academic research. Research assistants are not independent and are not directly responsible for the outcome of their research, they work under the supervision of professors.
All faculties and offices on Eastern Mediterranean University’s campus have a good number of research assistants. To feed our curiosity about how they balance the responsibilities of being research assistants and students at the same time, Gündem’s Jemima Atii had an interview with four of EMU’s research assistants.
Sepehr Ashtari Nakhei and Ehsan Rashed, both Iranian Electrical and Electronic Department Research Assistants said, “One unique thing about us is that we became research assistants one year ago, we both obtained our first degrees in EMU and graduated with the same CGPA”.
Speaking about their Duties as research assistants, they said their research is based on communication and image processing courses, Sepehr explained that his research also includes electronics, he said that as research assistants, they work with the laboratories mostly as teaching assistants, however, towards the end of the year, they begin research with the professors.
Balancing work and studies; although not an easy task seems a little easier for them since they are part time assistants and have less duties than full time assistants, no matter how easier or tasking their work is, they are determined to work harder. Ehsan said, “The whole time of the day is not ours, we have to find a way to divide the time between our work and studies and focus on both. I love teaching, I helped tutor my classmates during my undergraduate years and my love for teaching inspires me to keep working despite the setbacks. Success means so many things to different people, but I would say I am successful when I am able to do something useful for someone else, especially sharing my knowledge with them. I would advise aspiring research assistants to share their knowledge without hesitation and to take their jobs seriously. We also take our jobs as serious as the assistants who worked before us, they helped us a lot.”
Sepehr said, “My curiosity to know more about the universe makes me want to research more, I want to gain some more knowledge and see what is at the end because there is so much to explore and I want to get a point in my life where I am satisfied. I would advise students who want to become research assistants to be wise, have an open mind and be hardworking”
Selin Sacir, a Turkish Cypriot studying English and Language Teaching who is a research assistant for the EMU Registration Office said, “I moved to Cyprus from England 11 years ago but I only started working with EMU Registration Office 4months ago. I help with accepting new international students; I respond to their emails and send their acceptance letters to them.
Sometimes it’s difficult since I’m working and studying but I always manage to find a balance between them. I don’t like to stop because of challenges, the more I work, the more social I become and the more experience I get to help me in my future. Being able to engage with people and help them when they need help is something special for me, it’s exciting to know that I can assist them and that for me has been my great achievement so far as a research assistant. I advise all aspiring research assistants to trust their selves and know that they can succeed in doing anything at all.”
A Nigerian PhD Research Assistant Studying Economics at EMU, Mr. Andrew Alola who has been a research assistant for a year and a half stated that his first appointment as a research assistant was in February 2012 where he worked with the school’s International Office for only a semester, he then put his job on hold to focus on studies. He started work again with the same office in September 2015. He has recently been appointed as a part-time instructor in his department.
“My Work there is a little demanding, and my main duty is to attend to issues concerning African International Students, some of the issues include registration complaints and accommodation issues.
Working there has been a huge benefit to me aside from the fact that I am gaining experience, I have been exempted from paying tuition fee since I am a full-time research assistant which is a huge load taken off my shoulders. That is enough motivation for me to keep working, despite the complexity of my job responsibilities, being able to overcome the challenges I face is encouraging for me, I also see it is as another way to gain knowledge and build myself.”
Andrew believes that his being able to combine and balance studying and work is a personal accomplishment, he agrees that succeeding is when he can accomplish duties assigned to him, gain joy from the duties and meet other peoples’ need in the process.
“I always thought that having a good GPA is a major criterion to become a research assistant, little did I know that I was wrong. Although it is one of the things to consider, there is more. I always advice aspiring research assistants to possess a high level of integrity and to be objective not biased in their dealings.”
Life as a research assistant and student at the same time in EMU is certainly not an easy task, however, they have been able to find joy and ease in balancing the rather tasking responsibilities. They have also been able to remove “stress” and “impossible” from their vocabulary. From these people, I’ve learned that we can accomplish as much as we want to accomplish, all we need to have is faith in ourselves and determination. Will it be difficult, Yes! but will it be worth it in the end? Definitely!
By Jemima Atii