Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives
Senior Stories
Carissa Winland

Carissa Winland transferred to Southwestern to work on her second - no make that third - career. She was already a practicing applied behavior analyst and a professional photographer. But, for Carissa, that wasn't enough, and Southwestern was the place to move forward with her interest in psychology. "I liked that Southwestern was mostly composed of free-thinkers who weren't afraid to challenge one another," she says.

Although she says she didn't necessarily feel that community college prepared her well for the rigors of academics at Southwestern, she found that her sense of autonomy and leadership development in the Southwestern psychology lab was very rewarding. Carissa also says that the opportunities she had to develop as a researcher were unexpected, but allowed her to participate in four conferences while still a student.

Carissa says that while she was at Southwestern, she learned to be herself, and learned what it means to be a scholar. "A scholar is someone who isn't afraid to adjust their world-view and for the pursuit of knowledge," she explains. "For me, that means learning to not be so conservative or separated between my professional and personal lives ... I'm now more connected with people in general."

Now working on her Ph.D. in neuroscience at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.--specifically on a neuropharmacology project that looks at a mutation involved in smoking--Carissa feels that her undergraduate liberal arts education helps her to connect different ideas in all fields back to her own specific field. "Southwestern helped me expand my perspective!"

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