What was your most valuable experience while at University of Richmond?
My most valuable experience at the University of Richmond was conducting research in the psychology department. I began working in a research lab the first week of my freshman year in a lab with Dr. Kristen Lindgren. Over the next couple of years I dabbled in a few different labs, and settled into the lab with Dr. Laura Knouse during my senior year. I recently completed my senior honors thesis with Dr. Knouse, a project called Differential Diagnosis of ADHD and Bipolar Disorder: An Analogue Study. Working with faculty in such a collaborative and supportive setting is something that I am extremely grateful for, and something I don’t think I would have gotten at another university.

What is your next step after graduation and what led to this opportunity?
My next step after graduation is to spend a couple of months exploring London, and then moving down to Orlando, FL to begin working as a character attendant at Walt Disney World. I eventually want to pursue a Ph.D. in either child development or educational psychology as my dream is to work with children. In order to get into a competitive graduate school, you need to stand out from the other dozens (or hundreds, really) of applications. Working at Walt Disney World is an opportunity for me to gain some experience directly working with children, bulk up my curriculum vitae, and to have a little fun doing something totally different from academics.

What do you wish you knew earlier, while at UR?
I wish I knew that, more often than not, professors are eager to help you. I spent a lot of time in my first couple of years at Richmond thinking that professors were too busy to care about a student such as myself. However, I now know that I was completely wrong. There are so many faculty members who want to help! Also, even post graduation I know that I have several professors whom I can contact anytime for advice, guidance, a letter of recommendation, or even reassurance that the real world isn’t as scary as it seems.

What is one piece of advice for current students?
One piece of advice I have for current students is to try any and every opportunity that presents itself to you. I spent a lot of time in college questioning whether or not to participate in an internship, volunteer program, etc. because I didn’t know if it would eventually help me get into graduate school. I eventually realized that if I do things I am passionate about now, they will add value to applications later. I’ve tutored at Peter Paul Development Center, worked in corporate philanthropy for Toys “R” Us, volunteered as a hospital accompaniment volunteer for Hanover Safe Place, interned with National Alliance on Mental Illness, and worked as a Teaching Fellow in the psychology department, while being involved in a variety of organizations on campus. I’m glad I participated in such a wide range of experiences in college, because it helped me determine what I  want to accomplish in life. In addition, because of all these experiences, I am a more well rounded individual.

What do you most look forward to in your life post-UR?
One thing I am really excited about post graduation is having more time to read for pleasure. While I loved reading for class, I can’t wait to have free time to devote to self-guided learning. Having the freedom to choose what I want to learn and when I want to learn it is something I won’t take for granted.