Lauren Wylie wanted her final year as a psychology major to count. To make the most of her student experience, she answered a call for student leaders in the inaugural Student Engagement Program in UBC’s Department of Psychology.
She immersed herself in the psychology community by becoming a directed studies student leader. This involved liaising between the faculty and student leaders, coordinating the day-to-day program activities, event planning, and managing email and social media.
Being in the program and engaging with her peers gave Wylie a feeling of community; expanding her student experience significantly. She credits her supervisors who encouraged and opened up a world of opportunities to her–and to other psychology students. “UBC offers incredible support and resources to help students achieve their learning goals,” says Wylie. “I’ve been able to promote these resources to second-year students, who in turn, really benefit”.
Her involvement and dedication paid off. Wylie received the Eich Undergraduate Travel Award for her research Increasing student engagement for second year psychology majors: an experimental study, which she presented at the Western Psychological Conference.
“The goal of this study was to implement a cohort-based program of student events and peer-mentorship–and evaluate if this could increase student engagement and bolster success,” says Wylie. “Our data showed the students in the program reported greater engagement with the department, a stronger sense of belonging and connection to UBC, and increased knowledge about academic and career opportunities available after graduation. We also found that the program benefited students by helping them build specific skills related to job seeking and applying for graduate programs.”
Wylie was also one of three students who received the Best Poster Award at the Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC) for her work on Comparing engagement profiles of true freshman and transfer students.
When asked what piece of advice she would give first-year students, she urges them to get involved. “Getting involved with the Student Engagement Program was the best decision I made for my final year at UBC,” says Wylie. “UBC has many opportunities for psychology students to get involved, whether it’s participating in research, attending public speaking or CV workshops, or joining health and wellness clubs. Sharing your student experience with others will make your degree more fulfilling.”
Lauren, a biology minor, was attracted to psychology because it gave her a new understanding of a broad range of topics that relate to science. “You learn not only about human behaviour, the brain and neuroscience, and forensic psychology, but you see how all of these areas interplay with each other,” says Wylie. “It gives you an interesting perspective and understanding of yourself and other people.”
This is only the beginning of Lauren’s story. Next up, she is planning to take a year off school before pursuing her next adventure, traveling through Southeast Asia and Australia.
Lauren will be crossing the stage along with over 400 psychology graduates at UBC’s Chan Centre for Performing Arts on May 27 and 30, 2016.