Though many college students don’t take on independent research projects until graduate school, all undergraduate students at Albright College, regardless of major, are afforded the unusual opportunity to conduct research or creative activities in direct partnership with a faculty mentor.
Communications/public relations and advertising major Abigail Gray-Army ’20 used one such Albright Creative Research Experience (ACRE) to explore creative writing and start a memoir about the mind-body effects of cancer.
“This research is based on my experiences with young adult cancer,” says Gray-Army. It connects to my major and my future because it is turning into a memoir as my work continues.”
Gray-Army’s world turned upside down when she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in her shoulder, at the age of 16. Ewing’s Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer more likely to occur in children and teenagers. Gleaning a number of lessons through more than a year of treatment, Gray-Army finished chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free just before her senior year of high school.
For “Side Effects: A Memoir of a Young Adult’s Journey with Cancer,” Gray-Army wrote about her experiences with cancer and developed a set of prompts with English Lecturer Marian Wolbers to inspire creative writing about the disease’s effects on patients and loved ones. One message she hopes to convey is how difficult it can be for young people to be taken seriously by doctors during diagnosis and treatment.
“My work with professor Wolbers was really eye-opening,” says Gray-Army, who expects to keep learning after graduating from Albright. “In 10 years, I will hopefully have my MFA in creative writing and my doctorate in English language and literature.”