Finding her Niche: Tory Martin’s Undergraduate Research Story

The things you are passionate about are not random, they are your calling. Promising undergraduate Tory Martin is the embodiment of being passionate and motivated. Tory is a junior graduating in May of 2021 and is majoring in Philosophy with a Spanish minor & Pre-Law certificate. During her time at Texas A&M she has been accepted into the Glasscock Summer Scholar Program, a joint program between LAUNCH: Undergraduate Research and the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research which allows undergraduate research in the humanities an intensive summer research experience, and the Academic of Undergraduate Researchers Across Texas, which gives students the chance to network, attend professional development workshops, and show the way their research serves the state of Texas. Her acceptance from these two programs prove that Tory goes above and beyond the regular student. In November 2019, Tory shared with us stories about her life and experiences as an undergraduate researcher at Texas A&M:

Tory, why did you decide to pursue higher education? Who or what influenced your decision?

“My grandmother, Nina, has always championed the importance of higher education. She bravely decided to attend college at age 50 to expand her available opportunities. It had been 32 years since she had last attended any schooling, yet she had confidence she could succeed. Nina persevered through difficult classes and testing times until she graduated with her Master’s degree as Summa Cum Laude with the highest GPA at Texas Tech University. My grandmother set the example that there is nothing holding anyone back from pursuing higher education and that now is always the right time to learn more. With her example before me, I always knew I would attend higher education with her support. This past semester I received my Aggie ring after completing my junior year. My grandmother took off work and flew to College Station to present to me my Aggie ring. I knew she had to be the one to put my Aggie ring on my finger due to her everlasting passion and advocacy for higher education. Nina truly is an inspiration regarding the importance of education at any stage in life and I am forever grateful for her influence on my education.”

How did you find your Undergraduate Research opportunity?

“I discovered Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) through the Glasscock Summer Scholars (GSS) program. My professor and now advisor, Dr. Linda Radzik, sent out an email regarding the GSS program and the topic of her summer session, social punishment. I immediately became intrigued in the program, for I was looking for a way to become more involved in philosophy research and was already interested in the concept of social punishment. Upon applying for and becoming accepted into GSS, I was required to also apply for URS. URS was a perfect continuation of GSS because it provided additional opportunities and a new community to help me develop my research, writing, and presentation skills. I am also involved in the Aggie Research Program (ARP). Last year I became involved in Philosophy for Children (P4C) through Dr. Clair Katz’s P4C class. I discovered I had a passion for P4C due to its ample benefits that it has on children’s education. Ms. Angie Harris, of College Hills Elementary School, graciously allowed me to conduct facilitations in her classroom, matching my passion for P4C with her own. After doing P4C in her classroom for about a year with some peers, Kenji Blum and David Anderson, David reached out to me regarding his new ARP he was leading. David, a philosophy PhD student, began his ARP this semester, which I excitedly joined to continue my study and practice of P4C.”

Give us a brief summary of your research.

“In my thesis, I answer the question of whether one can forgive while punishing one’s wrongdoer. I created an account of forgiveness and punishment which I find to be the most accurate in order to determine whether or not forgiveness and punishment are compatible. Discovering this relationship assists us in better understanding our human condition, revealing how we ought to behave after wrongdoing, and can have policy implications. In order to discover the compatibility or incompatibility between forgiveness and punishment, I proposed a new theory of forgiveness, in which both emotion and action play equal roles in the process of forgiveness. After defending my account of forgiveness, I then moved into defining punishment, both legal and social. Finally, I analyzed forgiveness and punishment together to determine whether one can forgive while continuing to punish or if one must forgo punishment to forgive properly.”

How have you benefitted from being an Undergraduate Research Scholar, and why?

“Being an Undergraduate Research Scholar (URS) has given me a plethora of opportunities to develop my research, writing, and presenting skills while making me a deeper student as well. URS has given me the ability to become my own scholar and academic. I now feel as though I am a master in my subject matter and can engage in critical philosophical discussions and debates. With just being a student, I felt as though I was somewhat of an outsider in philosophy, like I was learning from the outside looking in {on} the discussions. However, with research and my thesis, I feel as though I am now a part of the discussion and literature in my field of philosophy. URS has given me confidence in my analytic and research skills allowing me to become a scholar in my subject matter. Further, URS has developed my skills in self-motivation, research, writing, and presentation. Each of these skills are necessary to successfully complete the URS program, so it is designed in such a way that it enables students to pursue and develop their skills. These skills will follow me past URS and into my future endeavors, such as law school. URS developed my skills in analyzing and supporting my arguments while also developing the skills listed previously. All of these skills will have long-lasting, positive impacts allowing me to become successful past URS.”

What did you learn from your mentor while researching?

“My thesis advisor, Dr. Linda Radzik, has taught me many lessons pertaining to researching and writing philosophical texts. She has provided constant support and reassurance through this process to remind me that I am capable of writing an undergraduate thesis. Dr. Radzik has expanded my confidence in my own voice and writing through her appreciation and promotion of self-guided learning. Rather than her giving me answers, she sparks questions and debates in me to develop my research. This has allowed me to engage in philosophical discussions more deeply and more personally. I now feel as though I am my own scholar, un-reliant upon others to help me discern meaning. Becoming my own scholar has had deep effects on my research and writing skills, for I can more easily engage in complex philosophical texts, create objections to other philosopher’s arguments, and insert my own voice in my writing. Dr. Radzik has helped me immensely in developing and completing my thesis.”

What are your plans for after graduation?

“After graduation, I plan on attending a Texas law school to become an attorney. While I am unaware of what kind of law I will practice, I know I have a passion for helping others which will guide my choice. My passion for helping others bloomed into a passion for law upon joining Global Legal Empowerment Brigades, an organization that provides pro-bono legal services and education to under-resources communities in Central America. Through this organization, I was able to see first-hand the importance of legal services in improving people’s quality of life. I now believe that legal services are one of the most long-lasting and sustainable ways in which we can help others. With my newfound passion for law, I gained an internship at Hernandez Law Firm, which has confirmed my love of law. Having attended and assisted depositions, mediations, and trials, I am confident that trial law will not only be a fulfilling career for me but also a way in which I can serve my community and those around me. I am extremely excited to apply for and attend law school in order to further develop and hone my passion.”

If you could offer some retrospective advice for future URS students, what would you tell them?

“I advise any student at Texas A&M University to become an Undergraduate Research Scholar (URS). URS provides a myriad of different benefits and opportunities that a student doesn’t typically have otherwise. If you plan on joining URS, which I highly recommend, I would tell you to not be afraid to become a scholar. Do not let imposter syndrome stop you from pursuing URS or hold you back while writing your thesis. I think every student agrees with me when I say that sometimes when researching or writing, we feel as though it might not be our place to act like a scholar or disagree with experts in our field. Don’t underestimate your abilities and your understanding of your subject matter; become an expert in it and find the niche within that. You are vastly capable of this and so much more, so don’t let you hold yourself back. Pursue your research confidently and know that your voice matters.”

Learn more about the Undergraduate Research Scholars (URS) thesis program at https://launch.tamu.edu/UGR/URS.