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Meditations on the Past and Future Evan Kueffner ’18 remains mindful of the friends, professors, coaches, staff and community members who opened doors to multiple opportunities for him.

Evan Kueffner ’18

“As a junior, my interest shifted away from sport psychology and began to settle on the mindfulness and meditative ideas which sport psych had exposed me to.”

~ Evan Kueffner ’18

Over the past four years, Washington and Lee has provided me with innumerable formative experiences and opportunities to grow in ways I did not expect but will certainly continue to cherish. Like the majority of college freshmen, I arrived on campus with an extremely general idea of what I wanted to study and what my career would be, but I was far from cementing any details. Now, I leave Washington and Lee confidently, on a career path aligning with passions I discovered and honed thanks to the university.

The first deep spark of interest occurred during the Spring Term as a first-year. I was fortunate enough to take Sport Psychology, where one of the topics discussed was the flow state, in which a person is totally absorbed in their task at hand with little concept of time or capacity to be distracted. I gradually became more interested in sport psychology, and in my sophomore year Professor Mike Singleton was extremely helpful in connecting me with Roanoke sport psychologist Dr. John Heil. As Dr. Heil’s intern, I was again exposed to the concept of “flow,” and took part as Dr. Heil led chronic pain-therapy group meditations.

As a junior, my interest shifted away from sport psychology and began to settle on the mindfulness and meditative ideas which sport psych had exposed me to. A good friend and former wrestling teammate introduced me to a meditative breath technique, and I was hooked. I began my own meditation practice unsteadily, but I was excited by what I deeply felt meditation could do for myself and others.

In my Advanced Methods course, Professor Megan Fulcher assisted me as I conducted research on the connections between mindfulness of bodily sensations, gender and eating disorders among local adolescents. As I looked for opportunities in the mindfulness and meditation industries, Professor Karla Murdock was invaluable in connecting me with Anthony DeMauro, a Ph.D. student at U.Va. who in turn connected me with multiple summer internship opportunities at mindfulness research centers. I ended my junior year by taking advantage of W&L’s fantastic study-abroad opportunities, spending Spring Term in Nepal. Not only was it intrinsically valuable to shift perspectives and experience bits of a new culture, but I was exposed to a society in which many people literally meditate religiously.

My final undergraduate year only further convinced me to pursue a career in mindfulness and meditation. Taking Professor Murdock’s Clinical Psychology and Positive Psychology back-to-back on Tuesdays and Thursdays during Fall Term provided an integrated perspective on the healing and happiness potentials of meditation. Working in Professor Fulcher’s Gender and Development lab has been great for many reasons, one being it gave me the opportunity to lead local children in mindfulness meditations at our after-school community outreach lessons. Finally, for my capstone project, I conducted independent research observing the acute and accumulative effects of different types of meditation on autonomic reactivity to stress. As I leave Washington and Lee, I’d like to remain mindful of all the friends, professors, coaches, staff, and community members who have been so helpful in opening the doors to all this great university has to offer.

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More about Evan

Extracurricular involvement
Phi Gamma Delta
Work-study for Public Safety and the Athletic Department
Wrestling team athlete/student manager

Why did you choose your major?
I’ve always had a broad interest in human thought and behavior. I can’t say I’d ever considered a major other than psychology.

Best place to eat in Lexington? What do you order?
Napa Thai, hands down. Everything that comes out of that kitchen is amazing, but I have to go with the green curry with veggies and tofu, 7 out of 10 spice.

What one film/book do you recommend to everyone?
“Peace is Every Step,” by Thich Nhat Hanh

What do you wish you’d known before you came to campus?
The Greek system overarchingly pulls the social tides here, but it doesn’t have to. Finding other options just takes a bit of active, intentional effort.

Post-graduation plans
I’ll be moving to Nashville to work at a gym my uncle is opening, while training towards certification as a meditation instructor.

Favorite W&L memory
Defeating conference rival Ursinus College in a dual meet (wrestling) for the first time in our head coach’s W&L career.

Favorite class
Augustine and the Literature of Self, Soul, and Synapses with Professor Jeff Kosky.