‘My Passion for Psychology’ One psychology class led Kelsey Jervis '18 to a long-term research project, a degree, and a spot on the Institutional Review Board.
“Although I don’t know what kind of career the future holds for me, I know I will use the knowledge and skills I gained from all of the experiences with research and psychology at W&L no matter what I am doing in life.”
Kelsey Jervis ’18
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
One of the things that will always stand out about my time at W&L is finding my passion for psychology. It all begin the second semester of my sophomore year, when I took social psychology with Professor Julie Woodzicka. By this point, I was pretty sure I was going to major in psychology but had not officially declared yet. If I wasn’t sure before the course, I was definitely sure by the time it was through. I loved everything about the class. All of the topics we discussed were incredibly interesting and relevant to everyday life, and Professor Woodzicka was hilarious — she could even make people excited to attend an 8 a.m. class three times a week.
During Fall Term of my junior year, I took two more classes with Professor Woodzicka: Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination, and Statistics and Research Design II. Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination was another fascinating course that covered a lot of topics and issues I find really interesting. In statistics, we were assigned a partner and together spent the term designing and conducting a psychology study. My partner, Audrey, and I chose to research the effectiveness of emojis in expressing anger in text messages. Our results were significant (let us know if you ever want to hear all about emojis and how to properly use them while texting to express your anger!), and at the end of the semester, Professor Woodzicka asked if we wanted to continue our research and work in her lab during the upcoming summer through the Summer Research Scholar program.
The summer in Professor Woodzicka’s lab was an incredible learning opportunity for me. Spending an entire summer conducting research really solidified all of the research skills I had started to grasp during my statistics course, enhancing my ability to perform extensive literature reviews, design studies, collect data, and successfully execute data analysis. It also allowed me to see what conducting research in the social psychology field looked like. Professor Woodzicka’s research was investigating methods to confront sexism and racism, a topic that was both interesting and relevant to our society today. I also wouldn’t do the summer justice if I didn’t mention that, in addition to all of the research and statistics knowledge Professor Woodzicka taught us, she also taught me and Audrey how to juggle, a true life skill.
At the end of the summer, Professor Woodzicka asked if Audrey and I would like to continue working in her lab during the school year, and I’m sure it is unsurprising by now that we both said yes. Shortly into the school year, I was given the opportunity to become student member of the Institutional Review Board committee. Without all of this previous research experience, I probably would have turned down the opportunity. However, because of my involvement with Professor Woodzicka’s lab, I had gained an appreciation for research and decided to join the committee. Being a part of the IRB has challenged me to view research from a multitude of perspectives—the view of the researcher, but also the viewpoint of the participant and the viewpoint of the institution liable for the ethics of the study.
Although I don’t know what kind of career the future holds for me, I know I will use the knowledge and skills I gained from all of my experiences with research and psychology at W&L no matter what I am doing in life. For anyone who has never taken a psychology class here, I would highly recommend it. I promise you’ll get something valuable out of it.
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