While early on my professional ambitions were aimed towards the mental health field, later experiences have redirected me towards a career in academia.
I come from a small, economically depressed town in Northern Wisconson. Many people in this former mining town do not graduate high school and for them college is an idealistic concept, not a reality. Neither of my parents attended college. Feelings of being trapped in a stagnant environment permeated my mind, and yet I knew I had to graduate high school; I had to get out. Although most of my friends and family did not understand my ambitions, I knew I wanted to make a difference and used their doubt as motivation to press through.
Four days after I graduated high school, I joined the U. The 4 years I spent in the Army cultivated a deep-seated passion for serving society. While in the Army, I had the great honor to serve with several men and women who, like me, fought to make a difference in the world. During my tour of duty, I witnessed several shipmates suffer from various mental aliments.
Driven by a commitment to serve and a desire to understand the foundations of psychological illness, I decided to return to school to study psychology. In order to pay for school and continue being active in the community, I enlisted in the Texas Army National Guard as a Medic.
Due to the increased deployment schedule and demands placed on all branches of the military after September 11, my attendance in school has necessarily come second to my commitment to the military.
There are various semesters where, due to this demand, I attended school less than full time. Despite taking a long time and the difficulty in carving separate time for school with such occupational requirements, I remained persistent aiming towards attending school as my schedule would allow.
My military commitment ends this July and will no longer complicate my academic pursuits. In college, as I became more politically engaged, my interest began to gravitate more towards political science. The interest in serving and understanding people has never changed, yet I realized I could make a greater difference doing something for which I have a deeper passion, political science. Pursuing dual degrees in both Psychology and Political Science, I was provided an opportunity to complete a thesis in Psychology with Dr.
As an undergraduate, I was privileged to gain extensive research experience working in a research lab with Dr. During the three years I worked in her lab, I aided in designing a study, writing an Institutional Review Board IRB application, running participants through both pilot and regular studies, coding data, and analyzing said data, with these experiences culminating in my honors thesis.
Participating in such a large study from start to finish has validated my interest in academic research as a profession. This fall I will embark on writing an additional honors thesis in political science. While the precise topic of my thesis is undecided, I am particularly interested in Mexico and its development towards a more democratic government. Minoring in Spanish, I have read various pieces of literature from Mexico and have come to respect Mexico and Latin American culture and society.
I look forward to conducting this research as it will have a more qualitative tilt than my thesis in psychology, therefore granting an additional understanding of research methodology. My present decision to switch from social psychology to political science is further related to a study abroad course sponsored by the European Union with Dr. Professor Mitchell obtained a grant to take a class of students to Belgium in order to study the EU. This course revealed a direct correlation between what I had studied in the classroom with the real world.
After spending several weeks studying the EU, its history and present movement towards integration, the class flew to Brussels where we met with officials and proceeded to learn firsthand how the EU functioned. My interest in attending the University of Rochester in particular, relates to my first semester at OU and the opportunity to take an introductory course in statistics with the now retired Dr.
Through the combination of a genuine appreciation and knack for statistics and with his encouragement, I proceeded to take his advanced statistics class as well as the first graduate level statistics course at OU. I continued my statistical training by completing the second graduate statistics course on model comparisons with Dr.
Roger Johnson, a Professor in the Psychology Department. The model comparison course was not only the most challenging course I have taken as an undergraduate, but the most important. As the sole undergraduate in the course and only college algebra under my belt, I felt quite intimidated.
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