The Columns

My W&L: Randl Dent ’15

— by on September 5th, 2016

Randl Dent '15

“My W&L experience has been everything I thought that college would be.”

My W&L experience has been everything I thought that college would be. I have made great friends, studied abroad, gone on road trips, and have been involved in a multitude of different extracurricular activities that I feel passionately about. Thanks to W&L’s small, liberal arts dynamic I’ve had a very well-rounded college experience and I will be incredibly proud when I have the privilege to call myself a W&L alumna.

The experiences that have shaped my life at W&L the most would definitely be the opportunities I’ve been offered as a psychology major. Many students told me when I first got to W&L that I would end up deciding on a major based on a particular professor. Lucky for me, I decided to major in psychology and not only loved particular professors, but the department as a whole. I have taken classes with almost every psychology professor and have really enjoyed all of them. I love that all of the professors know me and are willing to stop to chat about my thesis or what I am doing in my lab. I love that I know all of the senior psych majors and most of the senior neuroscience majors and have had the opportunity to get to know them all through our classes. I even love that we have psych department t-shirts. Our psychology department is one of the things I will miss most when I leave W&L.

I have been a part of Dr. Megan Fulcher’s Gender Development Lab since my sophomore year. It has afforded me with many opportunities, and enabled me to grow not only as a researcher, but also as a person. I came to W&L thinking I would follow the pre-med track with a psychology major. Before I knew that the pre-medical track was not for me, Dr. Fulcher already knew. I was given increasingly larger and more important assignments in the lab and was really starting to like researching and working with children that came into our lab. In the Fall of 2013, Dr. Fulcher and Dr. Murdock encouraged me to apply to the Emerging Young Scholars program at the Society for Research and Adolescence (SRA). I was invited to be an emerging young scholar and attended SRA in March of 2014, meeting many college upperclassmen, graduate students, and professors while there. Dr. Fulcher introduce me to an alumna who had just finished her Ph.D. and was about to start teaching, and who had the best advice for me as I began to seriously think about my future. At SRA, I had the opportunity to interact with professionals in the field of psychology and public health and ask questions about graduate school. There was even a session about writing personal statements and perfecting your C.V. I was unsure of how well I would fare in a graduate program, but Dr. Fulcher and Dr. Eastwood allayed my fears. A few weeks after SRA, I was supposed to attend a conference with two of my lab members and both of them unexpectedly could not come because of job interviews and graduate school visits. I went to the conference alone and was scared that I wouldn’t be able to handle everything on my own. But, the conference went great and I was able to fully explain our project as well as answer the difficult questions that graduate students and professors were asking. It was these experiences that made me sure that I wanted to go to graduate school.

When it came to grad school interview prep, I was confident and prepared because of everything W&L had taught and instilled in me. I had my C.V., my hotel booked, and my questions ready, but the W&L community helped me prepare even more. In the days prior to my interview, Dr. Murdock put me in contact with an alumna who is about to graduate from the clinical psychology program at VCU. I spent 45 minutes on the phone picking her brain for everything about the school and professors I might encounter. In fact, she knew every professor I was going to meet with and had advice on how to win over each one. My work-study advisor, Jan Kaufman, and her husband, Dr. Art Goldsmith, even set up a lunch for me with a mutual friend and colleague who was a professor at VCU. I had a great time at lunch with her and felt really prepared for my interview. Though I was waitlisted for the Ph.D. program, I was more than prepared for the opportunity due to my support system and alumni network that I have found through W&L.

I have had a great four years here and I am really sad to say goodbye, but because of the experiences I have had and people I have met, I feel prepared and excited for all that graduate school (and life) has to offer.