In our research series, we sit down with several of Siena’s Summer Scholars—student researchers who are paid for their work through Siena’s renowned Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, aka CURCA. And we’re doing so because 1) their research is fascinating, and 2) for high school students, “doing research in college” might not be super clear. So our goal is to demystify the concept and show you what it really looks like.

In case you missed our previous research posts, be sure to check them out. In this one, we’re looking at fast food brand awareness across the globe—and it’s pretty interesting stuff. 

Meet Diosmary Perez Trinidad

Dio is a marketing major from Sleepy Hollow, NY, currently in her junior year at Siena. In addition to her role as marketing coordinator for Siena’s Damietta Cross Cultural Center, she’s a diligent research student who is spending the summer months exploring brand awareness, marketing and fast food. Check it out. 

Fast food and brand awareness? What’s your project about?

It’s about how brand awareness of fast food restaurants differs from a developed economy to an emerging economy, and how it affects consumer purchase decisions. In some countries, for example, McDonald’s is perceived as a high-class restaurant. In others, like, India, McDonald's actually has a very different menu compared to what consumers are used to in the United States. This is due to the fact that the religious beliefs of consumers in India prohibit them from eating certain meats such as beef and pork. It makes perfect sense, but it's not a thought that would have crossed my mind if it hadn't been for this research. 

So, my first charge for this project is creating a survey. Professor Paul is guiding me through it, and giving me literature to read on the topic. It’s a lot of researching about the topic in general, but a lot of the work is creating the survey and then making sure that it gets out and that we get a certain number of responses. The number that we landed on was 200.  

How will you build your sample size for the survey?

There’s no specific audience. We’re not just targeting college students or just targeting people above the age of 35. We wanted to get a random sample of people. I’m a member of multiple Facebook groups that have thousands of people. My plan is to post the survey on there, explain what it’s about and get people to answer it.  Facebook groups have a variety of different ages, genders and different types of people. In terms of getting people from different countries, I was also going to use Facebook. The more countries that we’re able to survey, the better our chances of having better research results.

What do you hope to do with your research?

I want the opportunity to take it to a conference, and my professor and all of the professors at Siena are so great with that.  They’re helping  make that happen for students. It also looks great on a résumé and it’s just a great opportunity.

How did you feel going into this process?

There’s a marketing research class, and I haven’t taken that yet. I’m taking it next semester, so I was a little hesitant because I didn’t know the amount of work that I would have to put into this or if I was prepared.  But I’ve been able to create the survey, reach out to people and read the literature quite easily. I did take a consumer behavior course two semesters ago, and a lot of the information that I’m dealing with now relates to what I was reading in the literature. The fact that it has to do with marketing is what makes me so interested in it, because the passion is really there for it. I am passionate about marketing, and I’m passionate about this topic. It’s really been fun.  

How did it feel being asked to be a part of this research project by your professor?

Honestly, it meant a lot because it’s very hard to see if you made yourself known in the classroom. It was my first year and I didn’t know if I made an impact or made the right kind of impression on my professors. The fact that I was able to make an impression and that I was able to occupy that space in Dr. Paul’s mind just means a lot.

Did you receive any advice from fellow Siena students?

I’ve been told by upperclassmen to always go to the professor’s office hours and make sure to build a relationship between your professor and you, and that professors can help you with things outside of the classroom. Here it is in real life. It actually happened. Now I’m doing summer research and have the possibility of going to a conference because of the fact that I was aware of Dr. Paul and had him as a professor.

How do you think this project experience will help you in the future?

I know for a fact that one thing it’s going to help me with is public speaking, which I’m terrible at. As a marketer, it’s a skill that I should have, and that I should be building on. I am terrified of public speaking, but I know that there is basically a mini-conference at Siena for all the students who are Summer Scholars and we all have to present our ideas and talk about the research that we came up with.  That is going to be a pleasant challenge for me to go through because it’s a skill that I do have to work on, and Professor Paul has been really understanding of that. He’s going to help me through it and I’m just really excited and grateful for this opportunity.

Dio, you are amazing. Thank you for chatting with us! 

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