Ashley Jones, Communications

Jones completes research in future professional program

Ashley Jones

The signature honors project offers East Carolina University Honors College students a chance to explore future career pathways and make connections within professional programs. Ashley Jones, a communication major, reached out to Dr. Denise Donica, professor and chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy.

“Doing this signature honors project has made me excited to do research in graduate school,” Jones said. “I am less daunted by the wealth of information we have access to and now see it as an opportunity to always be learning.”

Jones completed a thesis focused on the handwriting abilities of low-socioeconomic status students in second through fourth grade in comparison to grade level requirements, which showed a need for significant remediation across all age groups.

“Occupational therapists often work with children on their handwriting since it allows students to demonstrate their knowledge, produce academic achievements and foster a sense of competence,” Jones said.

The topic combined Jones’ communication major as well as her interest in occupational therapy as an early assurance candidate for the program. Throughout the project, she continually met with Donica to brainstorm and learn more about the research process. Through Donica’s encouragement, Jones applied for participant incentive funding and received $1,680.

“My mentor was an excellent example by taking delight in the tasks at hand,” Jones said. “She challenged me as a person to get out of my comfort zone. Doing research is an interesting process because you often hit dead ends and progress is slow. Working with Dr. Donica helped me appreciate this process.”