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August 24, 2013

First impressions, second chances.

I’d like to believe that the first post shows who you are as a person – but I’m a big believer in second chances. So, if you’re going to read on, and at the end, you go, “Well, that seemed really awesome, but I thought I was looking for something else” — look, come back next week, and then try again. It’s like reading a book – 100 pages or three chapters. Everything deserves a test run. They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too – I disagree. You can have both, but in the end, you’ll decide if you’d rather have it or eat it.

And that’s who I am. That’s my story.  I’m Kevin, I’m a senior transfer student here at Clark studying Psychology and Religious Symbols, previously attending the University of Vermont. I applied to Clark, got in, loved every ounce of it, and decided to go to UVM to follow my at-the-time girlfriend. Yeah, that story your mom tells you to watch out for? I am that story.

They didn't tell you mistakes make you a superhero though.

They didn’t tell you mistakes make you a superhero though.

But hey, I made my choice, and I don’t regret it in the least bit. I learned what I didn’t want – I didn’t want to eat my cake, I wanted to have it. You won’t see me ever talk down UVM – I appreciate the experiences and lessons I learned from there. Instead, my writings will be about Clark, the community that made me feel at home when I visited, the people I find myself connected to beyond all others, and the University that brought (and continues to bring) me the most unbelievable academic opportunities.

From one world to another.

From one world to another.

Feeling at Home:

This is an easy starting point. I am the Captain of Ballroom Dance, and President of Psi Chi (Honors Society) and the Undergraduate Psychology Committee. I usually spend every[1] other[2] post[3] talking[4] about[5] something[6] Ballroom[7] related[8]; hopefully[9] proves[10] point[11]. So, instead, I want to tackle a different side to home. When I was looking to get involved with research, I emailed a professor listed on the listing of Psychology professors  and got a response from Dr. Valsiner. He said to talk to a graduate student, Kenny.

Usually, graduate students are equated with “They do the research, you do their grunt work.” and some Universities struggle with fighting that image. Clark — I would say it’s completely the opposite.

Kenny sent me a huge email, talking to me just as if he was a normal kid (HA!), trying to figure out if Clark was the right fit. He answered every question and more (Turns out he was a Baltimore Oiroles fan, ew.) He has been a mentor, a friend, a colleague, and a research/travel buddy. To be able to make friends with a previous-student-now-graduate-student from one “I’m curious on what X is” is what I consider a foundation of what the Clark attitude is like. Whether that’s dinner in Worcester, a conference in Chile, or coffee at our professor’s apartment, he’s been there with me.

Yes, that’s 2250 emails within a two year span back and forth.

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The Connected Community:

There’s a diner right off of campus - Annie’s Clark Brunch. If you come here, you need to go. Sure, you lose a month or two of your life span by eating there (depending what you get) but it is the best eggs I’ve ever eaten. Annie and Megan are the two wonderful women who run the diner. And, if you go there enough..

My friend's order. I believe it's two scrambled eggs with american cheese on an english muffin? And when I come with her they add a coffee cake muffin.

My friend’s order. I believe it’s two scrambled eggs with american cheese on an english muffin? And when I come with her they add a coffee cake muffin.

But that’s how the community is! As you get out more and more, people learn more and more about you. And the difference is – they want to know about you. They want to get to know you, to know what you’re about, to have philosophical debates and to roll around on the green while frisbees fly over your head and the Quidditch team runs by with their brooms. And while you’ll get to know people well enough so they know your order — you’ll also continue to meet new people every year.

Clark Quidditch

Unbelievable Academic Opportunities

Trying to keep this short, so I’m going to just run through these quickly (but their meaning goes beyond any sign I could give!).

  • Conducted independent research in my first year here (sophomore) and second year (junior).
  • Starting Honors Project on Souvenirs
  • Summer Research Assistant for 2 months in University of Luxembourg, all expenses paid for.
  • Editorial Assistant to academic journal Culture & Psychology since June 2012.
  • Presented at the International Society of Theoretical Psychology Conference in Santiago, Chile
  • Series Editor for a special issue to be published in Psychology & Society by our lab group, contributions from three other undergraduates at Clark, and researchers from Brazil, Denmark, Portugal, and Clark.
  • Traveling to Brazil to participate and present in a Symposium on Methodizing Catalysis
  • Peer-reviewed theoretical article under secondary reviews in top journal
  • Another article being reviewed for publication in an undergraduate journal
  • Invitation to publish in another special issue in Psychology & Society
  • Two to three manuscripts to be published in a yearly book on the Annals of Cultural Psychology

So – they tell you this — college — is the biggest decision of your life. They’re wrong. This is the biggest lesson of your life so far. Your choice doesn’t define who you are – or who you will become. Instead, it’s a learning step. You learn what you want. What you don’t. What one pathway can give you in terms of opportunities versus another.  But it’s okay try how the cake tastes before you decide you’d rather just stare at it’s beauty for the end of time.

902494_10151375525623181_1244999939_oJohnson Hall Family

 

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