Not Just a Number: Psychology Major MacKenzie Allison on Why WPU

October 6, 2020
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To be honest, MacKenzie Allison’s initial experience at William Peace University was not what she expected.

The Durham, North Carolina, native chose to attend WPU in order to play softball, study biology and make a meaningful impact on campus. But within her first year, Allison realized athletics was not going to be the way she invested in the University community and biology was not her true calling.

Now a senior with a 4.0 cumulative GPA, Allison said at first the unexpected transitions were frustrating, but now she’s happy for the challenge.

“When I realized I wanted to change my major and invest in other, immersive experiences,” she said, “I started to broaden my horizons and utilize WPU’s critical thinking courses (CTC) requirements in order to find other peaks of interest.

“And I most definitely found it in psychology, which is the reason I wholeheartedly decided to continue my education at WPU.”

Allison added she consistently recommends using WPU’s standard of exploration to new and incoming students to make sure you find the best fit for your education. Through WPU’s CTC requirements, she found her path from biology to psychology to even more specific study.

“I absolutely love everything about the field of psychology, but through my experience, I definitely found my home in research,” she said, adding that she will graduate this December with her BA in Psychology and a concentration in research.

“Although my interests may be nerdy, I have never felt more excited about learning what goes into running and operating a study,” Allison said. “There is something about constructing a study in a way that will not only yield reliable and valid results, but also comply with ethical guidelines to protect the rights of participants and the integrity of the data that is so challenging and rewarding to me.”

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She credits this enthusiasm to her WPU professors, like Dr. Betty Witcher, who pushed her in classes because she saw her potential.

“We have fantastic professors at WPU, and I have been given the opportunity to develop very solid professional relationships with them,” Allison said. “In the psychology department, you are exposed to a variety of ideas, theories and studies, and while each of the professors comes from different backgrounds and has original ways of teaching, they never told me what to think, rather, they taught me how to think for myself. 

“I think this is critical in the world we now live in. As a young person, it’s valuable to understand that it’s okay to deviate from the majority opinion given you know how to develop and articulate a meaningful point or idea.”

Her hard work and commitment to the field of psychology contributed to her internships with LabCorp/Covance over the last two years: first, in training international employees on video conferencing best practices in summer 2019 and then as an In-House Clinical Research Associate intern this past summer.  

Looking back on how different her WPU experience has been than what she expected, MacKenzie said she wouldn’t change anything now, adding that with those unexpected changes she grew both personally and professionally.

And her advice to new students? 

“It is perfectly fine to not know what exactly you want to do,” she said. “In fact in my opinion, it is so much better for you to come in with an open mind and a willingness to learn than to have this very specific title in mind that you hope to obtain. 

“I’ve learned adulthood is all about being prepared for change and being comfortable with the uncomfortable. So take the changes in stride and choose a direction, you’ll learn the path as you go.”

What’s next?

Allison was recently offered a full time role as an In-House Clinical Research Associate with LabCorp/Covance, starting in January 2021. She credits her mentors at WPU for helping her achieve this dream. 

“A Big thank you to the psychology department at WPU for seeing my potential and mentoring me as I worked to achieve my goals!”