At the expense of revealing myself as a super nerd, I’ll admit that I’ve had the same professional goals since I was in middle school. From the days of awkward haircuts, braces, and horrific plaid uniforms, I’ve known that my dream is to earn my PhD in clinical psychology, and one day open my own psychotherapy practice. When it came time to start applying for college, my number one criteria for schools was that they had to have an awesome psychology program. So, in typical Katie fashion, I took to the internet, researching the best cities to go to college, where students are most likely to get internships, and what schools were publishing the most interesting psychology research studies. After doing the research, gathering my data, and analyzing my results, I decided a trip to Washington, DC, was in order. I bought my Amtrak tickets, and scheduled two campus visits to DC area universities. I was certain that one of these schools would be the place where I would start my career as an aspiring psychologist.
About a week before the trip to the District, my mom sent me an email with a link to Catholic’s website. She added that even though it’s a smaller school, we might as well stop by, since it was apparently only a short metro ride away from Union Station. I had heard of Catholic before, but I wasn’t exactly jumping at the chance to take a tour. Lots of other kids from my high school had gone there, but it didn’t exactly stand out to me in the same way that some other big names did. Even though I am currently cringing at how naïve and small-minded I was as a senior in high school, I thought in order to be successful in college I would have to go to a big name school with a top national ranking. Catholic didn’t seem to meet all my criteria, but to appease my mother, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to stop by and at least check out the Basilica.
To say my visit to Catholic University blew me away would be an understatement. I have never felt more welcome at a school than I did at Catholic. Not only did I get to go on a fantastic tour of the beautiful campus, but I also had the opportunity to meet with a psychology professor, a chance that no other university had offered me before. I sat down with Dr. Spears, and although I did not know it at the time, she was the same woman who would turn out to be my academic advisor as well as my mentor and role model.
To this day, I remember the feeling of sitting in her office, marveling at her shelves upon shelves of books about psychology, all having titles which intrigued and excited me. I was mesmerized listening to all the work she had done in her career, as well as the research she was currently coordinating at Catholic.
I won’t lie and say that I left that day knowing for sure that Catholic was for me, because I definitely still struggled with the big decision. I did, however, leave Dr. Spears’ office with a new perspective on what I should be looking for in a school. While it’s easy to impress friends and family with acceptance letters to fancy, big name schools, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best place for every person.
Less than one year after my first meeting with Dr. Spears, I started working in her lab as a research assistant, getting real hands on research experience. I’ll be a senior this year, and I’ve had countless opportunities, both on and off campus, to explore a variety of topics through research, one of which I’ll even be presenting at a national conference this fall! Even though as a small-minded senior in high school I didn’t think Catholic was “good enough” for me, I now know what no amount of research could have shown me; Catholic University has provided me with a personal, hands-on education that has not only surpassed my high school standards, but also fulfilled my middle school psychology dreams.
Katie B. is a senior psychology major from Long Island, New York. Thanks to the support of her Keurig and Dunkin Donuts, Katie lives a very caffeinated life, and can be spotted giving campus tours, helping first year students move in during Orientation, or scouring the city in search of the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.