Grace Gardner came to the college to study psychology. She wanted to do that at a liberal arts and sciences university, because she wanted to experience a variety of academic areas. Now, she’s prepping for grad school in occupational therapy, and getting ready for what will be a challenging yet fulfilling career.
“I took AP psych in high school.” Grace explains, “and that cemented my interest. So, I was able to skip the intro course and jump right into the intermediate level courses at the College. Right away, I started getting to know faculty members.”
A course in developmental psychology became one of her favorites. “I really enjoyed that class, so I asked the professor about her research and she invited me to join a project. We’re examining cognitive development in children and their exploration in conversation with adults. I’ve been involved in that research for over two years now and I’ll help present this work at an academic conference in Chicago soon.”
Two other courses were formative, Grace says. “Neuroscience, along with Sensation and Perception, were two of the most challenging classes that I took in the major. And both of those have equipped me to do well in grad school.”
Grace also arranged to do a couple of independent studies, one in which she worked with inmates in a jail to study how emotions relate to rates of recidivism. “I realized by doing that work that I’m less interested in clinical psychology. But during that same time, I got to know a therapist working with an autistic boy and I realized how challenging yet rewarding occupational therapy can be. That’s when my focus shifted.”
Grace hopes to work in pediatrics, perhaps with elementary school children. “That’s what I’m thinking now, but who knows. I could end up working in a burn ward or in a nursing home or the VA. There are so many settings for OT work, and this major is preparing me really well to succeed in whatever I choose.”
Psychology majors are taught to think critically, research intensively and communicate clearly. They study traditional areas of psychology through courses such as Conditioning and Learning, as well as newly developed areas in courses like neuropsychology. Research opportunities abound with faculty mentors who are social and clinical psychologists studying a wide array of subjects from relationships and mental health issues to the effects of neurotoxins on brain development and behavior.
❱❱ Recent graduates have secured employment with nonprofits, businesses, law firms and mental health institutions. And many go on to graduate schools.