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Cole Gershkovich ’24 Earns David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology The Elmes Pathfinder Prize recognizes a student who has shown extraordinary promise in psychological science through outstanding scholarship in basic or applied psychology.

Cole-headshot-scaled-600x400 Cole Gershkovich ’24 Earns David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology

Cole Gershkovich ’24 has been awarded the 2023 David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology at Washington and Lee University. Gershkovich, from Spring Hill, Tennessee, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in cognitive and behavioral science (CBSC) and a minor in studio art.

The Elmes Pathfinder Prize recognizes a student who has shown extraordinary promise in cognitive and behavioral science or its application in professions through an outstanding basic or applied psychology scholarship.

On campus, Gershkovich is a head Peer Counselor and the editor of Pluma, W&L’s Spanish-language literary magazine. In addition to his research training in his CBSC courses, he is a member of the Technology, Health and Cognition Lab mentored by Karla Murdock, Jo M. and James M. Ballengee Professor of Cognitive Behavioral Science, and Wythe Whiting, professor of cognitive and behavioral science, and has received additional mentorship in qualitative research methods from Lynny Chin, associate professor of sociology. Gershkovich is currently completing a senior research thesis, co-mentored by Murdock and Chin, that explores the preferences that people with mental health issues have regarding nonmedicalized communities. In addressing spaces that foster a sense of belonging and empowerment among individuals with mental health challenges, Murdock feels Gershkovich’s thesis is especially important during a time in which such challenges are so common.

“Cole’s interests in mental health research are driven by an authentic sense of curiosity and an orientation toward service,” Murdock said. “His signature approach is to connect readily and easily with others to explore options, gather information and build relationships. He is an exceedingly resourceful person who works methodically and effectively to actualize his goals, and his creativity and collaborative interpersonal style will equip him to make a big impact in the mental health field.”

Following graduation, Gershkovich plans to attend graduate school to study social work or clinical psychology and recently applied for a Fulbright award to pursue a master’s degree in the United Kingdom, where he would study representations of mental health issues in creative media.

“Like many of my fellow seniors, I am not sure where my path is going to take me, and with time I have become more accepting of that uncertainty,” Gershkovich said. “I just know that whatever the specifics of my work end up being, my role is to be an advocate and support people with mental health issues in any capacity.”

The Elmes Pathfinder Prize was established in 2007. It derives from the Elmes Fund, a permanently endowed fund that honors David G. Elmes, emeritus professor of psychology. The endowment was created by the many alumni, colleagues and friends who benefited from Elmes’ commitment to learning during his 40-year career as a scientist, teacher and mentor at W&L.

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