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Office of the Vice President for Research


Michael Englehart's Magellan Story

"My Favorite Person I Met at USC"


Name: Michael Englehart
Hometown: Lugoff, SC
Majors: Sociology and Political Science (Class of 2014)
Magellan Programs: Magellan Scholar, Magellan Guarantee
Research Project: "The Absence of Weak Ties in Traditional Public Housing"


Michael Englehart beamed with satisfaction as he read the words: "Congratulations! You have been accepted into the Sociology PhD program at Ohio State University." It was the moment when he saw his hard work pay off -- and he says it wouldn't have happened without his Magellan Scholar mentor Dr. Shelley Smith.

"It just validated all our hard work," Michael said. "Sure, I was the one accepted but she helped me get there. So it was very satisfying to be able to tell her that her work to get me into graduate school paid off."

That work began back in Fall 2012 when Michael was a student in Dr. Smith's Sociology 300 course, Social Structures. "That class really changed the way I looked at the world," Michael said. "I began thinking more critically about society and this led to applying what I learned in that class to my own life and the world around me." 

Though he admits he found the idea intimidating at first, Michael decided to visit Dr. Smith during her office hours. This turned out to be a great decision. "Professor Smith is by far my favorite person I met while at USC. Her mentorship is what got me to where I am today. Over time, we built a great rapport and she was beyond supportive and encouraging. Aside from how much I enjoy research, part of the motivation for wanting to become a professor is because of how much I grew to respect Dr. Smith -- I wanted to be the mentor to someone just as she was to me."

Michael worked with Dr. Smith to create a research project relating to his job with the Columbia Housing Authority. "Prior to working there, I had a limited understanding of what public housing was," Michael said. "I learned there were two primary modes of housing -- traditional and Section 8. I was interested to see how these two distinct settings affected the residents' experiences, perceptions, and behavior." Dr. Smith helped Michael develop a survey to study the differences in the two groups.

Research ultimately led Michael to graduate school, but there was a time when it helped him just get through college. "Prior to getting involved in research, I felt very disconnected from the university," he said. He even considered transferring to another school before his involvement with Dr. Smith changed his mind. "Research is a great way to get involved, stand out, and develop meaningful relationships. [Magellan Programs] provided me with my first taste of the research process and showed me how rewarding it could be."