For Bethany Pope, coordinator in the Support of Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors (SOURCE) office and a self-described “people person,” the past year has been challenging.
Used to managing student employees and working closely with students to help them find research opportunities, showcase their work and develop their skills, Pope is accustomed to being around others. So when the COVID-19 pandemic made that impossible, she was forced to adapt.
Pope thrives with in-person programming—such as the lunch-and-learn sessions she usually plans for undergraduate students who conduct research on campus over the summers—but her primary focus is celebrating the accomplishments of students, and helping ensure they have a venue to show off their work. In their accomplishments, Pope says she finds joy.
The Intersections event is one such example. When the pandemic hit, SOURCE was about one month out from its spring event, which serves as an opportunity for undergraduate students to present their research to the community. Faced with restrictions for in-person events, Pope was a major contributor in helping reimagine the event in a virtual format, responding with flexibility to learn the ins and outs of Zoom—and teach it to student presenters—and how to use discussion boards for the event.
“It’s good to see colleagues rise to these occasions,” said Sheila Pedigo, Pope’s supervisor and director of SOURCE.
Since the first virtual Intersections event in April 2020, the office has hosted two more and has another coming up May 6–7.
“I really get to participate in the accomplishments of the students, the joys that they have in those accomplishments and I get to celebrate,” Pope said. “That also is a privilege in a lot of the work I’ve done at the university. There’s just that joy in seeing people reach their goals, joy of seeing them accomplish something large.”
Additionally, Pope is tasked with ensuring students in SOURCE’s research programs receive their stipends, tracking down all of the necessary information and processing it. Backed by nearly 25 years of experience at CWRU, she has formed relationships with individuals across campus to make such efforts possible.
Prior to beginning with SOURCE in 2005, Pope held roles at the Allen Memorial Medical Library, School of Graduate Studies and Department of Biology. And during that time, she has been committed to growing professionally and contributing positively to the university community.
Pope is a 2017 graduate of the Train the Champion diversity program, has served as a coordinator for the African American Campus Community Resource Group, is a Diversity 360 facilitator and earned her Certificate of Achievement in Financial Management through the CWRU Administrative Professional Series—which has proven helpful in her experience processing students’ stipends.
In recounting her time at the university, one moment stands out as one of the most rewarding: A former graduate student approaching her years later explaining how instrumental she was in ensuring his future success.
“Sometimes you don’t really think that your actions are going to have that great of an impact and so when you do see that, that’s just immeasurable joy,” she said.
The university is grateful to Pope for her efforts supporting students over the years, and especially during what’s been a challenging year.