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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.