Psychology in NYC

Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

For my STEP project I was able to travel to New York City and attend multiple different events that furthered my knowledge in the field of psychology and my future career.

What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

One of the biggest transformations that occurred while I was completing my STEP Signature project was my understanding of myself and what I want to do for my future career in psychology. Up until visiting New York City and attending lectures with PhD’s and learning about research, I was convinced that I should pursue a masters degree. I thought that doing research and getting a PhD would not be that interesting to me and wasn’t something I was really considering. After my experience and enlightenment about the abundance of research topics and the processes involved in conducting research, I became very intrigued. I found the lectures at the psychology conference to really draw me in and think about possibilities for research that I could conduct. Visiting a psychology lab also drew me in even further. I loved seeing the behind the scenes and steps to conducting good research. I learned so much and figured out more about myself and my view of how I can make a meaningful impact in the field of psychology. I think research fills that criteria and is something I am convinced I should pursue as a career.

What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

All of my experiences in New York City helped me to reach my transforming view. First, I was able to attend a big psychology conference in one of the new world trade centers believe it or not! Here, I was able to listen to lectures from many distinguished PhD’s and their research pertaining to studies of addiction in the brain. I plan to become a psychologist, so learning about the mechanics and effects that addiction can have on individuals was really helpful knowledge for me. I asked questions, got involved, and really got the most out of the experience. On the last day of the conference, there was a poster event where studies were presented in more detail and everyone could discuss these research posters with the individuals in charge of the data collection. I loved this part the most. Getting involved in talking about research really made me lean towards considering a PhD in graduate school. This event was definitely a big highlight of my STEP experience and one in which I feel like I have gained lots of knowledge that will benefit my future career in psychology.

In addition to the conference, I also attended a lecture by Elizabeth Pyjov in which she discussed the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is an up and coming method for psychologists. I have heard about it in some of my classes at Ohio State, but this lecture gave me a lot more insight into what mindfulness means and how it can be used. Dr. Pyjov even engaged the whole room in some mindfulness meditation. During these meditations, I let myself be very involved and tried to understand the methods behind them. I felt like this type of mindfulness meditation or way of thinking has great potential in the field of psychology and I hope to put this method to use one day.

To take a break from psychology, I also went to a talk at Barnes and Noble with the two authors of the book “The Career Code.” Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power talked about how they successfully started their careers and what it takes in order to achieve your goals for success. It was so great to listen to these two in order to build up my self-confidence and determination for having the career I want and doing well along the way. They took questions from the audience and at the end, we all got to have our books signed. I even got a picture with them! I feel like these two are a great role model for anyone getting ready to start a career and I would definitely recommend their book! Even though I know getting a PhD is hard work, I was really encouraged by these authors and felt confident in the steps that I can take to be successful.

Aside from Barnes and Noble and the food carts on every corner, New York City has multiple universities scattered throughout the city. Each of these universities has professors doing important research in many different fields. I decided to make a visit to Hunter College in order to take a tour of a psychology lab. I wasn’t able to take any photos, but I learned a lot about how different studies are run on community participants and the method involved. There are many rules to pay attention to when conducting a research study that I was not aware of, so I am really glad I have a better idea of how that type of thing works. I was also able to see how researchers use EEG to collect data. This was my favorite part of the experience. EEG stands for Electroencephalography, which is the practice of putting electrodes on a persons head in order to collect data about brain activity. I have read about this method, but to see the equipment and the computer program that monitors all the data collection was very interesting. Visiting this lab only further pushed me in the direction of PhD research. During my trip to New York City, I did more than just learn about psychology. I learned more about myself and what I want to do for my future. That is what made this trip a real transformational experience.

Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life? 

This transformational view about my future is extremely significant for my life. Reflecting back on my experience, I realized that had it not been for my exposure to the big psychology conference, the lecture by PhD Elizabeth Pyjov, the boost in confidence from Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power, and my first hand look at a research lab conducted by a PhD in clinical psychology, I may have never really learned that research was something that I had a genuine interest in. All of these experiences gave me so much knowledge and insight into what getting a doctoral degree encompasses. Without this trip and without STEP, I may have pursued a masters degree and been stuck with a profession that wasn’t the best fit for me. Choosing a career field and pursuing something you have a strong passion for is everyones dream and this trip to New York City has allowed me to find that passion. I know that my newfound calling for research in psychology will bring me self-satisfaction and fulfillment and I couldn’t have asked for a better transformational experience.

-Helen Varuhas

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