Loyola University Maryland


Faculty Mentoring and Individualized Learning to Support My Career Discernment

by Kelly Deegan, '20, B.A. in Psychology with minors in Forensic Studies & Political Science

Starting at Loyola, I knew two things that have always seemed to contradict each other. First, I wanted to be a psychology major. Second, I didn’t want to be a therapist. Clinical psychology has never been a true interest of mine, but research always has been. I was thrilled to discover I could combine my interest in psychology with my passion for research and pursue a career as a research psychologist. There was one problem though, I had no idea where to start. All opportunities that readily came to my mind had to do with clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or psychiatry. For internships and real-life experience, students interested in those fields can intern at hospitals or rehabilitation centers, shadow a clinician or doctor, work in a therapist’s office, and so much more. In terms of research experience as an undergraduate, I didn’t know where to begin. So, I started by talking to my advisor.

Dr. Grover was my freshman core advisor and she does research in developmental psychology.  After telling her that I wanted to concentrate in forensic psychology, Dr. Grover immediately pointed me in the direction of Dr. Carlucci. One thing that scared me more than anything was reaching out to professors I did not know. However, I gathered my courage and reached out to Dr. Carlucci. This was my best decision in all of my years at Loyola. Dr. Carlucci is a legal psychologist with extensive research experience. She helped me narrow down my research interests. With her guidance and support, through meeting with me and just discussing my options and opportunities, I finally knew what I needed to do next.

I then reached out and connected with Dr. Betz, a social psychologist in our Department. She brought me on as a research assistant for her fairly new study. Through her I learned so much about doing individual research and how the professional process is conducted. Because of her, I am a co-author on a study that has potential to be presented and published. Since that time, I obtained a summer research internship leading into my senior year and helped two additional faculty with research work.  All of these opportunities came to me because I reached out, introduced myself, and persisted in seeking opportunities at every point. I feel lucky to be part of a Department that has such a vibrant research scene and faculty who are excited to work with undergraduates.

In addition to the above research experiences, with encouragement from my mentors and advisors, I sought out and obtained a Field Experience placement (a course that counts for credit here at Loyola) and am currently taking an Independent Study course. For my Field Experience, I am interning at a forensic psychiatric hospital to learn more about forensics in this context.  As my Independent Study, I am doing my own research on fake ID’s on college campuses as an undergraduate under the mentorship of Dr. Beth Kotchick, with the goal of producing a professional manuscript by the end of the year.

I am intending to graduate with Departmental Honors and I am a member of Psi Chi, Loyola’s chapter of the national psychology honors society. These awards have not come easy. I have worked hard, sought out opportunities, and have made amazing connections. With every effort I have made, I have become closer to achieving my goal of going into a Ph.D. program right out of undergrad, where I hope to study criminal behavior and the innerworkings of the American justice system. If you have any questions or want to know more, contact me at kedeegan@loyola.edu. I’m so glad to share my findings and experiences with you, as well as show you how amazing the psychology department is at Loyola.


Madeline Valentine


Madeline’s relationships with incredible faculty and mentors inspired her passion for research

Biology, Psychology