Enuma Anekwe-Desince 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.
Enuma Anekwe-Desince ’22 has been awarded the 2021 David G. Elmes Pathfinder Prize in Psychology at Washington and Lee University. Anekwe-Desince is a cognitive and behavioral science major and is pursuing a minor in Africana Studies.
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.
“I was ecstatic to learn that I won the Elmes Pathfinder Award,” said Anekwe-Desince. “I remember as a freshman and sophomore feeling privileged to know the brilliant awardees who received prestigious academic awards like this one. I aspired to learn and grow and have as much of an impact as them. Now I’m a recipient, too, and it’s a thrill to be recognized by the department in this way.”
At W&L, Anekwe-Desince has participated in several research courses with her advisor Julie Woodzicka, professor of cognitive and behavioral science and Lynn Chin, professor of sociology. Anekwe-Desince credits these experiences, as well as her work in the Advanced Immersion and Mentoring (AIM) Program with Dan Johnson, professor of cognitive and behavioral science, with helping her “to remain intellectually curious and cultivate phenomenal research skills.”
“The enduring lessons have been to not feel pressured to limit your interests to only pursuing projects or topics that you have seen be done before,” Anekwe-Desince said. “If you’re interested in it, and there isn’t enough literature on it, that’s even more of a reason to pursue it.”
“I have been fortunate to have taught Enuma in several research-focused courses, and for several years Enuma has been a leader in my research lab,” said Woodzicka. “Enuma gravitates toward research examining important applied issues and is sensitive to perspectives that many have not thought about. One of the reasons Enuma is a fabulous young researcher is that she pays attention to the details. She is also a very quick study and an extremely talented troubleshooter. I truly believe Enuma can accomplish anything she puts her mind to, and I can’t wait to hear of her accomplishments beyond W&L.”
Anekwe-Desince aims to begin a doctorate program as soon as she graduates from W&L. Her time working with professors at W&L has inspired and prepared her to pursue a career that includes research.
“As of now, I see myself pursuing a career in international development to help my home countries of Nigeria and Haiti to overcome the lasting effects of colonialism. It will take rigorous, empirical research to draft the innovative approaches necessary to change the trajectory of these developing lands, and that is the perspective I hope to bring to this field,” she said.
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 at W&L. 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.