Psychology and Education
There’s really been a focus here on the quality of your work, not so much the quantity of it.
In high school, I thought I would either go into physics or make-up, so obviously, I did not have a lot of plans in life! My mom, who graduated from Ursuline, reminded me that I also loved law and suggested I go to Ursuline for Pre-Law. So I majored in Psychology with a Pre-Law concentration but early on changed it to a double major in Education and Psychology. Education just added to my interest in language because education has a lot to do with teaching kids English and speaking and writing.
You were accepted into the Cognitive Neuroscience doctoral program at George Washington University. Why did you pursue this?
I started looking into neuroscience, and cognition programs specifically, when I realized I had this love for language-science and psychology and that happened in doing research projects with (Psychology Department Chair) Dr. Christopher Edmonds. I knew I wanted to go into experimental psych.
Not all undergraduates have opportunities to pursue research. Tell us about your experience.
In the first two research courses I took with Dr. Edmonds my projects focused on language and memory. He ushered me through the process of creating my first experiment. And once I had created my own experiment, I knew that's what I wanted to do. I want to keep researching this, especially as I realized there's not a lot of information on how language works in the brain.
In the following semester we took a cognition memory class that had a section on language and it just genuinely blew my mind. That's what made me start looking at graduate psychology programs that had language in them. The two populations I want to work with are very, very young children acquiring language ability and then elderly adults with diseases of aging.
Did your Ursuline education prepare you well for grad school?
Yes! I’ve had so many writing assignments, papers and essays for tests, and the psychology curriculum focuses a lot on research, which is also an important foundational skill. It’s been a lot of work, but in a good way. It influenced me and has been amazing preparation for graduate school. I have had to learn to divide my time and make sure the research I put out is of such a great quality.
There’s really been a focus here on the quality of your work, not so much the quantity of it. I think a lot of other schools focus on quantity or overloading students as a definition of how hard it is. Here it has always been, ‘No, the quality of your work is what’s important.’ I also think that since our class sizes are so small, your professor can spend time focusing on you.
I do feel really prepared. The funny thing is, most of the George Washington graduate students I spoke with came from small colleges too.