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2022 - New center provides first-of-its-kind research opportunities for students at ECC

Tags: Academics | Student Resources
Published 09/09/2022

Elgin Community College is pleased to introduce the opening of a new outreach program for ECC students interested in learning about academic research or working on a creative project with the mentorship of an ECC faculty member. The Center for Undergraduate Research, Innovation, and Creativity (CURIC), officially opened with the start of the fall 2022 semester.

Highly unique to the two-year community college environment, the Center for Undergraduate Research, Innovation, and Creativity offers access to in-depth research opportunities for students usually experienced only at the advanced four-year or graduate school level.  CURIC encourages and promotes scholarship and creative academic projects for all students through one-on-one or small group project mentoring, preparation for academic research beyond ECC, access to a dedicated learning space, and the opportunity to present at an annual CURIC symposium.

Assistant Professor of Sociology Mia Hardy, PhD, started a limited pilot program in the spring of 2022 as a small, focused effort to offer a deeper and high-impact learning opportunity for women of color, who are traditionally underrepresented in academic research. Interest from faculty and students across ECC’s programs, including those in the career and technical fields, led to the program becoming institutionalized and expanded for the fall 2022 semester. Dr. Hardy now serves as CURIC’s inaugural director and says she is encouraged by the positive response from students and faculty to grow the program and offer more opportunities to any student in any field of study at ECC.

“The deeper learning and critical thinking skills gained when working through a long-term research project are valuable not only for those students who are looking to continue to a four-year institution but to every student regardless of their career path,” said Hardy. “In my research, I’ve found nothing similar in our area or even the nation that gives this kind of dedicated effort to community college students and opens the door to the same access students at a four-year college or university may have,” said Hardy.

Student participants in the program are called Fellows due to their commitment to growth and learning. Regardless of participation as a CURIC Fellow, all students may participate in monthly workshops and hear guest speakers throughout the academic year. Fellow scholarship opportunities are also available.

For more information about CURIC, visit