Meet Our Majors

Meet some of our psychology majors.

 

Chloe Lindner ’22

Hometown: Madison, NJ
Major: psychology; minor: sociology

Can you describe your working relationships with psychology professors?

At Oxy, psychology professors treat you like graduate students. Students are actively involved in their research and are integral members of their labs. Our input is valued, and we are a part of the entire research process.

Have you taken part in any student research opportunities?

I have been involved in research since my first year at Oxy. With Dr. Andrea Hopmeyer, I explored the reasons for loneliness among emerging adults in college. I also co-authored a study focusing on the impact of workplace loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Oxy has also given me the tools to pursue an independent study. In collaboration with Dr. Andrew Shtulman and Dr. Sara Haga, a researcher at the University of Portugal, I designed and executed a first-authored study on the Better-Than-Average Effect in Preschoolers. Through the support of Oxy, I was able to present my findings at the 2021 Association for Psychological Science Conference and am currently in the process of finalizing a manuscript for publication.

At Oxy, psychology professors treat you like graduate students. Our input is valued, and we are a part of the entire research process.

What do you find most compelling about studying psychology?

I love how much psychology teaches us about ourselves and others. It gives us the tools to understand and analyze the world around us. As a result, we gain a deeper understanding of the human condition, guiding us along the way to creating a better future.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy, and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

Oxy’s liberal arts approach helped prepare me for what lays beyond graduation and ignited a passion for a professional career in clinical psychology. I was given the opportunity to explore and learn about a variety of topics and disciplines. Through this, I became confident in my ability to work with others and inspire change in the future.

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in psychology?

Pursue research. Doing research at Oxy has been one of my most rewarding experiences. I have learned and gained so much from my research experiences. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors! At Oxy, professors love having students involved in their research and support you to pursue your interests.


Elizabeth Hagopian ’22

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Major: psychology; minor: biology

What was your motivation to major in psychology? Was there a specific inspirational moment or experience?

I came to Oxy as a cognitive science major and started off taking classes in that department. Even though I was enjoying them, it wasn't until the fall of my sophomore year, when I took “Cognitive Psychology” with Dr. Shtulman, that I realized that I truly wanted to be a psychology major. Learning about the inner workings of cognitive processes really opened my eyes in realizing the direction I wanted to take my studies.

Have you taken part in any student research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere? Or, if applicable, can you describe your senior comps project? 

Starting my sophomore year, I worked in Dr. Hopmeyer's lab, studying loneliness and peer crowd affiliation in emerging adults. Last summer, I participated in the Undergraduate Research Center's annual Summer Research Program, where I presented a study about stress reactivity in sensitive discussions among young adults. I am currently working in Dr. Cabral’s Behavioral Medicine Lab, where I have contributed to several studies, including studies on women’s health and well-being and e-cigarette use among young adults. I'm also planning to pursue an independent study, where I will be exploring the relationship between clinical treatment and minority groups like Armenian-Americans. 

I have really come to appreciate studying psychology because, in addition to satisfying my curiosity, it helps me gain a greater understanding of myself and the world around me.

What do you find most compelling about studying psychology?

I have always been fascinated by learning about the explanations behind human behavior. I have really come to appreciate studying psychology because, in addition to satisfying my curiosity, it helps me gain a greater understanding of myself and the world around me. By digging deep to find the explanations behind human behavior, I find that I am more at peace with myself and my personality. To my surprise, I have also learned how to better my relationships as a result of studying psychology, which I view as a practical benefit to pursuing my academic interests.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

After Oxy, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, and eventually work as a licensed therapist for adolescents. My time at a liberal arts school has helped me think about psychology in the context of real world issues and scenarios, which allows me to view it from a more dynamic and worldly perspective. Through this, I was able to realize that I want to spend my future working in a clinical setting directly helping patients rather than in a research-based or academic setting.

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in psychology?

My main piece of advice would be to connect with professors and try to get involved with research. Working in a research lab early in your time at Oxy can help you figure out what you like and don't like studying, which is extremely beneficial in figuring out what you want to pursue in your future. All of the professors in the psychology department are very approachable and want the best for all of their students. Going up to them and inquiring about the studies they are working on is a very simple way to begin your research experience and get your foot in the door for future research opportunities.


Anita Wybraniec ’22

Hometown: Palo Alto, CA
Majors: psychology, Spanish studies

What was your motivation to major in psychology?

I decided to major in psychology because I wanted to gain the skills needed to help others. I've always thought that if I learned enough about people, I could understand everything about them and make a difference in the world with that knowledge. However, since then, I've realized there's so much we actually don't know about human cognition and behavior, which made me shift gears into research, where I can explore the unknowns and contribute to the world with what I find.

Have you taken part in any student research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere?

Part of what I love about Oxy is the research opportunities that I get. I started out working in the rat lab my first year for directed research, and then I took a semester of directed research in another field. I completed a 4-unit independent study project, which prepared me for the current project I'm doing for honor's credit. Now I'm working on an intervention to boost help-seeking skills and academic engagement for children in a tutoring program.

What do you find most compelling about studying psychology?

What I find most compelling about studying psychology is the research skills it has given me, which is great preparation for graduate school and important jobs. I've used these research skills during an internship and was able to work with Ph.D. students to create surveys for a mental health intervention program.

Part of what I love about Oxy is the research opportunities that I get.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

After Oxy, I am still not completely sure what I am doing, deciding between going into a business-type job or into education. A liberal arts approach has definitely oriented me towards grad school, and I intend on pursuing either a master's or a Ph.D. after one or two gap years.

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in psychology?

My advice is to get involved in research as soon as possible! It's a great opportunity to explore what you are passionate about and develop important relationships with your professors, who are great sources of wisdom.


Shannon Xu ’22

Hometown: Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China
Major: psychology; minors: education, linguistics

What was your motivation to major in psychology? 

I have always been interested in how humans think and the ways to scientifically examine humans’ minds. Moreover, psychology consists of a wide breadth of subjects, such as neuroscience, social psychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, etc. For most higher-level psychology classes, we were introduced to a new topic in every class, so I was never bored. Learning something that is very applicable (because it’s all about humans) is so fun!

Can you describe your working relationships with psychology professors? Are there any standout classes you’ve taken?

I first started working with Dr. Hopmeyer during the first semester of my sophomore year because I was interested in working with children and Developmental Psychology sounded very interesting to me. However, after taking Dr. Shtulman’s “Cognitive Psychology” class, I became extremely interested in how children think and acquire language. Therefore, I joined Dr. Shtulman’s Thinking Lab and have been working with him until now. His research examines how humans think by studying how children think. I am also working with Dr. Dess in her rat lab. I also really like Dr. Dess’s classes because she goes over the difficult statistics concepts slowly and thoroughly, and that lays a solid foundation for developing high-level research skills. 

Have you taken part in any student research opportunities at Oxy or elsewhere?

Most of my research was done with Dr. Shtulman, studying how humans think. One of the projects we worked on explored whether performance on the Cognitive Reflection Task (CRT) predicts adults' and children’s ability to discern fake news. For example, a bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? (intuitive: $0.10, correct: $0.05). The results of this study show that participants with better performance on the CRT also do better at discerning fake news. The research experience that I gained at Oxy is priceless, and I really enjoy the ability to conduct research with a professor closely—this is something that you would rarely be able to do at a larger university. 

After doing a research internship at a larger institution, I realized how Oxy enables students to build a closer relationship with professors.

What are your ambitions post-Oxy and how has the liberal arts approach helped to shape these ambitions?

I would like to become a speech-language pathologist and conduct research in the field of bilingualism. Being at a liberal arts college has really taught me to think critically and develop higher-level research skills. By taking a combination of psychology, education and linguistics classes, I have a solid foundation of theoretical perspectives about language acquisition and how to implement better teaching curriculums. Furthermore, Oxy enables me to take the initiative to do my own research, think outside the box and apply theories to real life. After doing a research internship at a larger institution, I realized how Oxy enables students to build a closer relationship with professors and how Oxy professors are challenging us to think critically. After Oxy, I am confident to reach out to professionals in the field and pursue further degrees knowing that I am an independent thinker with great research skills.

Do you have any advice for a student considering a major in psychology?

If you are not sure what you want to major in, try psychology! Psychology has so many different aspects, and you can definitely find one that fits you. Also, if you are thinking about graduate school, try reaching out to the psychology professors whose research seems interesting and ask if they are accepting research assistants (you can get credit for it!). All of the professors make themselves very approachable and accessible if you are interested in gaining some research experience. I had a great time working with all of them, and I learned so much outside of class by doing research.

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