Undergraduate Library Research Award: An Interview with C. Tara Edwards

Tara and Diane
Tara Edwards (left) and Diane Meyer (right)

We recently sat down with one of our 2017 Undergraduate Library Research Award winners, C. Tara Edwards, to ask about the application process and solicit her advice for students who are planning to apply this year.

In 2017, Edwards was nominated by Diane Meyer for her work Dividing Los Angeles, a “research-based photographic exploration of structures in Los Angeles that contribute to residential segregation by displacing and dividing communities.” Edwards’s deep bibliography containing a variety of sources, her excellent faculty letter, and her sophisticated understanding of the time, place, and context of the her primary sources helped to create a beautifully executed and moving project. Edwards is a senior studio arts major with an emphasis in photography and a double minor in art history and elementary education.

Why did you decide to apply for the Undergraduate Library Research Award?

CTE: “After working on my research project for over a year, which culminated in a photography book with written components, I was interested in finding platforms to share my process and my findings. I decided to apply for the Undergraduate Library Research Award because it gave me the opportunity to share my work with a broader audience of people who are experienced in research and authorship, as well as my peers and the LMU community. Almost a year later, I still get emails with download and readership data from across the country.”

What advice would you give to any students who are considering applying this year?

CTE: “When you research something you’re passionate about, it comes across in your writing. Choose or embark on a project that you care about and that you want to share with other people. Also, make sure you use the library as a resource and emphasize that in your application.”

What advice did you receive from your faculty sponsor?

CTE: “I met with my faculty advisor many times over the course of my project. During this time, she advised me to explore different means of visually representing my research, encouraged me to set up meetings with the library’s special collections, and suggested that I also visit the Los Angeles Public Library for more resources.”

How did you hear about the award?

CTE: “While I was completing my project, my advisor told me about the Undergraduate Library Research Award and recommended that I apply.”

What was your reaction when you heard that you had won one of the awards?

CTE: “I was surprised but also relieved that the hours of sitting in special collections, reading articles and books, writing and rewriting, walking around the city and photographing, editing and organizing files, and designing my book were going to be recognized. I was happy that I was going to get to share my research with more people.”

Have you already given some thought to your plans/hopes after graduation? 

CTE: “I am on track to graduate with my multiple subject teaching credential, so I will likely teach elementary school for at least two years after graduation. After that, I want to pursue an M.F.A. in photography and eventually a Ph.D. in social geography. I may continue teaching elementary school or go on to teach photography at the college level.”

Thank you, Tara, for sharing your thoughts and advice with us! If you are a current LMU undergraduate and plan to apply for the award this year, please go to our ULRA website for more information about eligibility, requirements, and deadlines. Good luck!