Something Dean DePauw said somewhat off-hand during one class that has really resonated with me was the idea of graduate school and graduate studies resembling a higher-level liberal-arts environment. This means so much to me for a few reasons. My background, and the educational environment I identify most strongly with, is a liberal arts environment. I loved the ability to be trans-disciplinary during my undergraduate years at Roanoke College. By the time I graduated after 4 years, I had a bachelor’s of science in Psychology, a minor in Creative Writing, and a concentration in Neuroscience. If I’d had one more semester, I likely could have added another minor in Biology or Statistics as well. My time outside of classes was split working as a student assistant in the Psychology Department, the head student assistant and tutor at the Writing Center, and an intern/lab tech in a molecular neuroscience lab at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. Everything I did incorporated as much as I could, and that helped me thrive.
As I waded through graduate programs, I was still not entirely successful at narrowing down a field. I ended up applying to PhD programs in clinical neuropsychology, interdisciplinary neuroscience, and master’s programs in science writing. I was reluctant to compromise my varied interests. Probably the primary reason I ended up at Virginia Tech in the department of Translational Biology, Medicine, and Health was because it appeared to me that in enrolling in this interdisciplinary program, I could continue to integrate methodologies, theories, and approaches across disciplines. And I have done so whole heartedly. My research incorporates cognitive neuroscience, psychophysiology, human factors, engineering, and healthcare practice principles on a daily basis. I often refer to my graduate program and even my research as “a graduate school level of liberal-arts” myself, and I was beyond excited to hear someone else validate that perception.
Moving forward in my career planning, it seems only natural for me to immerse myself in that liberal-arts environment that has been so conducive for me so far.