by Faith Shank, Anticipated B.A. in Psychology, with Departmental Honors in Psychology, Class of 2018
Being a quiet and reserved person throughout high school, I thought the same would happen during college. However, attending Loyola has helped me break out of my shell, and helped me to find my passion for psychology. When I was a first year I knew I wanted to be a psychology major, but was not sure what I wanted my future to look like yet. I was lucky enough to have Introductory Psychology as one of my Messina classes, where I was able to grow a strong bond with the professor, Dr. Grover. Although the class ended, Dr. Grover was always willing to meet and talk about my undergraduate career and has helped me expand my experience in the field of psychology. Keeping in touch throughout my undergraduate career, I was grateful to work as a research assistant for her, as well as complete an independent study with her. My independent study (PY300) was on the topic of gay male adolescents, and consisted of taking a former graduate student’s dissertation (80 pages) and condensing it into standard length of a scholarly journal article (30 pages). I was able to complete this process successfully, and now this manuscript is being submitted to a journal with me as a coauthor. Additionally, with encouragement from Dr. Grover, I decided to apply for research assistant positions at Johns Hopkins University. I was honored to become a research assistant in a Vision Lab, where I was able to assist doctoral students by running experiments and helping them with data analysis. From this experience, I knew that research was something that I would want to continue to do in the future.
Eager to learn more about research I took Research Methods, with Dr. Golom, as one of my major requirements. Although the topic of research methods and analysis may not be interesting to every student, Dr. Golom made it worthwhile, and has been one of my favorite classes here at Loyola. In this class, we were able to create our own research study as part of a group, and then carry out the study in the subsequent semester. Although this task felt long and stressful, it was actually fun because of the constant encouragement that Dr. Golom gave us. I learned more than I ever thought possible from this class, and developed a passion for research. Through this experience, I was also able to form a great relationship with Dr. Golom. I have kept in touch with him since that time and continue to receive tremendous encouragement and support from him. I’m ecstatic to be taking a Research Seminar with him in my final semester at Loyola.
Being able to get these experiences with research, I wanted to expand my horizon, and took Field Experience (PY435) with Dr. Loomis over the summer. In this class, I was able to explore a variety of possible internship sites, and secure a placement at a substance abuse clinic near my hometown. At this placement, I observed group therapy sessions and assessments for both adolescent and adult clients. While completing this internship as part of the class, I also was required to keep a journal of my experiences, which helped me to reflect on my experiences and discover how much I loved working with this population of substance abuse clients. Thereafter, I pursued another internship (PY436) the following summer at a program that had clients who were suffering from both substance abuse and mental health. During this experience, I was again able to observe group therapy sessions and was even able to facilitate group therapy sessions on my own. Being able to facilitate group therapy on my own helped me to practice my therapy skills.
Being able to have these varied classroom, research, and field experiences has refined my vocational interests, and further prepared me for my intended career in psychology as a clinical psychologist. The courses I have taken at Loyola are exceptional and have taught me more about psychology than I ever thought was possible. However, it was not only the classes that helped me grow. Being able to work in the psychology department as an office assistant I was able to develop strong relationships with professors. The professors here in the psychology department have always been there to help me through the toughest moments, and there to celebrate my accomplishments. These professors have challenged, encouraged, and supported me, and have helped me to become the best version of myself. Having this undergraduate experience has given me the confidence that I needed to pursue my dreams, and I cannot be more grateful to have been able to be a part of the psychology department here at Loyola.