Newsletter Section


Jenna Andrews: Finding the 'Sweet Spot'

"I no longer see myself as a non-traditional transfer student, but as an essential part of the UW community. I guess you can call me a Husky now!"

- Jenna Andrews, BS June 2013

Photo: Jenna Andrews
Photo: Jenna Andrews

When Jenna Andrews began her studies at UW in the fall of 2011, she didn't see herself fitting in. A transfer student from Seattle Central Community College, she recalls that she expected to go through her junior and senior years at UW with her head down, just going through the motions until graduation. Jenna was in for a surprise.

Jenna hit the ground running by participating in a class designed for first quarter transfer students who plan to major in psychology. Once she had the lay of the land, things started to click. She would go on to find academic success and to complement her studies with experiences as a research assistant and peer teaching assistant. As a peer TA with Jaime Diaz, who Jenna characterizes as "thorough, passionate, and dedicated to students learning the material," she says that she was able to interact with the course material in a way that truly encouraged critical thinking.

Born in New York City and raised in nearby Sammamish, Jenna was ever in search of that "sweet spot." Always believing that her career would involve helping people, Jenna initially envisioned doing so as a pastry chef and chocolatier. But, after earning a degree in Specialty Desserts and Breads from Seattle Central, Jenna decided to go back to school to work toward a a goal of becoming a child therapist. She has explored this interest in classes related to health psychology and by working with pediatric oncology patients.

In addition to research, volunteer, and peer teaching experiences, Jenna also had the opportunity to take on a student leadership role. At the end of her junior year, she was selected as an undergraduate Fellow for the College of Arts and Sciences "C21" program. "As part of this small group of students, we worked all year long to improve liberal learning at the University of Washington," Jenna says. She and her C21 colleagues were even granted a research scholarship to go to Tokyo, Japan, to examine how their higher education system functions.

So, what does the future hold for this go-getter? Perhaps a little jet-setting. Two days following graduation, Jenna will leave for Zambia where she will work with locals on issues related to nutrition, women's empowerment, and children's health education. She then plans to travel to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa, and then on to London. When she lands back in the Seattle area, she'll focus on applying to clinical psychology master's programs, hoping to begin in the fall of 2014.

It seems that this former pastry chef has truly found her sweet spot!

Amanda Kay Montoya: Stereotype of Success

"I will always remember when someone said to me 'Isn't psychology more of an art than a science?' It made my blood boil, but in a good way."

- Amanda Kay Montoya, BS June 2013

Photo: Amanda Montoya
Photo: Amanda Montoya participates in an EEG study for the UW's Vision and Cognition Group

Amanda Montoya is a scientist. An honors student in the Psychology Department, she has faced the ups and downs of what it means to be a researcher. "My goal from day one has been establishing psychology as a credible science," says Amanda, who has "only gotten more passionate about the validity of scientific psychology."

A researcher from the get-go, Amanda chose UW because of the strong research focus in the Psychology Department. Worried that great research might equate to not-so-great teaching, Amanda took a leap of faith and wasn't disappointed. For Amanda, UW Psychology professor Tony Greenwald embodies this duality. Of Dr. Greenwald, Amanda notes, "I realized that being an expert in your field really does prepare you to be a great teacher, because teachers need to be sources of information, and involvement in research provides you with that information first hand."

Born and raised in Seattle, Amanda says that she definitely fits a lot of the Seattle stereotypes: she is completely addicted to coffee, is terrible at driving in the snow, and gets sunburned on the first nice day each year. Hooked on psychology as a discipline while at North Seattle Community College, Amanda transferred to UW as a junior, jumped in head first, and never looked back.

Recruited into the UW Psychology Department honors program upon her transfer from North Seattle, Amanda began working with Sapna Cheryan's "Stereotype, Identity and Belonging" lab. Her long tenure with Dr. Cheryan's lab has helped to land her a lab manager position that will begin upon her graduation. While in that position, Amanda will prepare to apply to doctoral programs in quantitative psychology. Amanda's goal is to make approachable concepts coming out of quantititive psychology research.

Poised to graduate this June with a BS in psychology and a mathematics minor, we are sure that Amanda will fulfill one stereotype... that UW Psychology graduates go on to do great things!

Monica Burns: Making Science Work for her Future

"One thing that was challenging to experience first hand is that science doesn't always 'work'."

- Monica Burns, BS June 2011

Photo: Monica Burns
Photo: Monica Burns

Monica Burns learned about scientific 'disappointment' as an undergraduate in the UW Psychology Department. "When you read articles and textbooks, you only see the successful side of research," recalls Monica, "but when you're actually involved in research, you see that there are lots of false starts, and studies that feel beautifully designed sometimes fall apart... especially in the hands of an infant participant." But, that's why we need science, to test our ideas.

A participant in the UW Psychology Department honors program, Monica worked with Jessica Sommerville's "Early Childhood Cognition" lab. Through this experience, and the ability to be in control of her own experiment--from brainstorming to data collection and analysis--Monica realized that she wanted to pursue a career in experimental psychology. Her hard work as an undergraduate paid off as she was offered and accepted the position of manager for Dr. Sommerville's lab upon graduation. Monica credits Dr. Sommerville with "helping students to think like scientists and devoting a lot of time to (her) academic development."

It seems that Dr. Sommerville's dedication and Monica's hard work have paid off. Beginning this fall, Monica will be working toward a Ph.D. in developmental psychology in Dr. Felix Warneken's lab at Harvard University. As for her words of wisdom for current UW undergraduates, Monica has one major recommendation: get involved in a research lab! She also encourages current students to talk to their peers, graduate students, and academic advisors. And, get involved in Psi Chi, the UW's chapter of the international honor society in psychology.

Here's to a bright future for Monica... filled with scientific disappointments and stunning successes alike!

Undergraduate Accomplishments

The Psychology Department is proud of the accomplishments of our undergraduate students. Check out some of the highlights from this year:

The Psychology Honors Poster Session, on May 29, showcased the work of the 23 members of the Honors Program, most of whom are graduating this year. The poster session, along with the completion of a senior thesis, marks the culmination of a two-year intensive research program. Congratulations to our honors students: Drake Apablasa, Polina Charters, Chelsea DeMoss, Brian Eschels, Nile Graddis, Helen Jones, Courtney Kwong, Elizabeth Lagbas, Sin Yan Lo, Nathan Ma, Keitaro Machida, Amanda Kay Montoya, Harrison Owens, James Pai, Crystal Silvia, Jordan Standlee, Anyi Sun, Alex Swanson, Emilie Tang, Jacqueline Uomoto, Andrea Vernon, Justin Vongpanya, and Tianyi Xie.

On May 17, most of the honors students listed above as well as of number of other psychology majors -- 64 in all -- participated in the campus-wide Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Congratuations to the 14 psychology majors (and their faculty sponsors), who were awarded Mary Gates Leadership or Research Scholarships. Our Leadership Scholar is: Garret Zieve (Denise Benitez-CHID). Research Scholars are: Dorender Dankwa (Jonathan Weinstein-Neurology), Brian Eschels (Tony Greenwald), Katharina Foote (Steven Buck), Michael Fujimoto (Juliet McMains-Dance), Meilin Jia-Richards (Marsha Penner), Hyejin Jin (Erin Ward-Ciesielski), Helen Jones (Jonathan Bricker), Joon Kim (Sean Murphy-Neurological Surgery), Keitaro Machida (Michael Murias-Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences), Amanda Kay Montoya (Sapna Cheryan), Anne-Lise Nilsen (James Ha), Heather Schneider (Matt Kaeberlein-Pathology), and Jenna Shrewsbury (Sheri Mizumori).

Amanda Kay Montoya was the recipient of an Undergraduate Research Conference Travel Award. Her faculty advisor is Sapna Cheryan.

Nile Graddis was named a Levinson Emerging Scholar in fall 2012. Nile's faculty advisor is Sheri Mizumori.

Photo: Jordan Standlee
Photo: Jordan Standlee.

Each spring, the College of Arts and Sciences awards the Dean's Medal to the top student in each academic division. Jordan Standlee was the Psychology Department's nominee for the Dean's Medal in the Natural Sciences Division. Jordan is a member of the Psychology Honors Program and will graduate Summa Cum Laude. He will attend medical school in the coming year.


Photo: Jenna Andrews
Photo: Jenna Andrews

Graduating senior Jenna Andrews was selected by the Arts and Sciences Dean's Office to represent the College at Commencement as a gonfalonier. The gonfaloniere (as they are called collectively), are outstanding graduating students who represent their colleges by carrying large banners - gonfalons - into the Commencement Ceremony. Read more about Jenna here.

The following students were invited to join Phi Beta Kappa this spring: Kristi Boes, Christine Hagstrom, Brian Jacoby-McCurdy, Brinn Jones, Sean Lyons, Jeffrey Ou, Geneva Pritchett, and Molly Wright.