Sac State student to present research at statewide competition

Elisha Angrisani

A Sacramento State Student has been selected to present her research on “Web Gangsters” at the statewide student research challenge at CSU Long Beach.

Criminal justice major Marisa Smith was one of the winners in last month’s student research challenge at Sac State.

She was one of four winners who were invited to the CSU statewide student research challenge.

Smith is from Compton and is excited because this will be the first time her family will get to see her research displayed.

“This is the first time my family will have the opportunity to see any of my research and they have never been to any of my presentations,” Smith said.

This research is about adolescents portraying themselves differently through aggression on social networking sites such as Facebook.

“Kids can choose to be anyway they want online, why would they choose aggression?” Smith said.

She said viewing a video clip of a young man having to tell his friends the truth about his identity urged her to take a closer look into this issue.

The young man portrayed himself online as being in a gang and having a rough background.

“Why would he say he was in a gang when he came from a good family?” Smith said.

Smith said most people address the issue of cyberbullying but they do not look at how adolescents are representing themselves online.

“My presentation showed examples of aggressive behavior,” Smith said.

Smith has not completed her research but has created a hypothesis. Through the competition she will be able to gain feedback from other contenders and judges.

Taking her research further means completing this hypothesis by asking adolescents why they show themselves aggressively online.

She wants adolescents to be made aware of how portraying themselves in a certain way on a social media site can affect their future in a negative way.

Associate criminal justice professor and mentor Ricky S. Gutierrez said, “It is important for students to use research to help them understand social phenomenon as it forces them to do a thorough review of the literature before developing and testing hypotheses.”

Working with mentors, Smith was able to get involved with programs at Sac State helping her with her research.

“A lot of people downgrade Cal State schools because they look at them and think they are just commuter schools where people come to get their degree to graduate,” Smith said. “What they don’t know is that a lot of teachers are interested in research and are willing to help their students with research,”

Becoming involved in programs like the McNair Scholars program, Smith was able to network and gain support with mentors and other students.

“Programs like McNair help students build upon the skills they will need to study at the graduate level, and eventually, design and complete their own thesis and dissertations,” Gutierrez said.

Smith said getting the experience comes from being involved on campus.

“It is not what you know, but how you network yourself and your experience,” Smith said.

Elisha Angrisani can be reached at [email protected].