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Why I Majored in Psychological Science

Janelle Herring ’21

I knew I was going to major in psychological science since my junior year of high school. Despite being interested in almost everything I have ever learned, I had an inexplicable connection to this field. I love how psychology seeks to understand the mysteries of humans and how humans can be the best versions of themselves. I was especially interested in helping people with psychological disorders, and came to college with the intention of becoming a psychiatrist.

I took my first psychological science class the spring semester of my freshman year and have been working my way through the major ever since. My favorite class, not surprisingly, has been Psychological Disorders. This class has been the most applicable to my career interests and reinforced my desire to work in healthcare. I also have taken advantage of the research labs available in the Psychological Science Department. I currently am a member of two different labs, and I have contributed to research on monogamy, health behavior messages, stigma and child development, amongst other topics. Conducting research allows me to explore my interests, while contributing to the knowledge base of psychological science.

Even though I’m still interested in psychiatry, being pre-health has opened my eyes to other paths available to me in medicine. I am currently unsure of which path I will choose, but I know that my undergraduate studies in psychological science will positively influence the way I practice medicine. Studying psychological science has taught me to appreciate the complexities of humans and to uphold a holistic view of health. In whatever career path I choose, I hope to help people at the intersection of both mental health and physical health.

Tanya Shah ’21

My first semester at Pomona, I took an Introduction to Psychological Science class on a whim, just to see what it would be like. I had never studied psychology before, and I was fascinated with the concepts we learned in that class. This made me take another class in Psychological Science, and then another, and so many more until I realized I was in love with the subject. I was soon diving into Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology and learning from and amongst some of the most brilliant and inspiring people I know. Each class left me with more questions and a greater curiosity to find the answers.

The Psychological Science Department has given me several opportunities to do interesting and meaningful research in labs during the semester, and also over the summer. Through the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP), I explored the psychology behind mental health stigma in India, and I hope to continue that research in my senior thesis.

I like to spread my enthusiasm with other students by mentoring for Psychological Science classes. I was also recently given the chance to be a liaison for the department and this position has already brought me even closer to the tight-knit psychology community here. After Pomona, I hope to go to graduate school to study clinical psychology, and delve into research relating to mental health stigma, and psychological and personality disorders. My eventual goal is to become a practicing clinical psychologist. My parents joke about how I should be able to read people’s minds by now, hopefully they’ll cover that in graduate school?

Ananya Saluja ’22

I grew up in New Delhi, which is the capital of India, and one of its biggest metropolitan cities. Even in a relatively progressive city like Delhi, however, I was highly aware of the stigma surrounding conversations regarding mental health and psychological disorders. In my own social and familial circles, I was able to get a closer look into mental illness and how it is treated as taboo, and this is what first inspired my interest in psychology. Coming to Pomona, I was blown away by the depth and range of the major, and how much I had never known I could explore — from personality patterns to cognition, from neuropsychological concepts to the basics of behavioral research, being a psychological science major has introduced me to both the social and scientific aspects of psychology.

My journey with the psychological science major has been nothing but rewarding. From my interest in psychological disorders stemmed my passion for personality and personality disorders, and working in the Mental Health and Individual Differences (MIND) Lab has allowed me to examine the constructs of personality disorders and stigma. I hope to use the skills I have picked up in labs and classes in writing my thesis next year, as well as in understanding how to dismantle the taboo around mental health and help-seeking in my home country of India. As a liaison to the department, I hope to continue to generate interest in the major, and I am grateful everyday for the opportunities this major has provided me with to engage with some of the brightest students and faculty members.

Kirby Lam ’23

I majored in psychological science because I love uncovering the underlying mental processes that facilitate how we think and act. I came into college wanting to do psychological science because it gives me the flexibility to explore social processes through race and culture while learning to apply those theoretical concepts in the community. Coming from an Asian immigrant enclave in Southern California, I wanted to see how the APIDA (Asian, Pacific Islander, and Desi American) experience and history of discrimination can be explained through psychological constructs. With psychological science, I can learn the critical thinking and communication skills that I need to go to graduate school and become a mental health service provider for immigrant communities.