Newsletter Article

Psychology Graduation Speakers Reflect on Time in Department

Each year, the Psychology Department chooses three graduating students to give talks at the Psychology Graduation Celebration. This year, from among all applicants, we narrowed the field to six finalists. While we were only able to select three of these students to speak at the event, all were so outstanding that we chose to feature them in our newsletter.  


“Take chances - I think that learning that nothing truly bad would happen by just taking a chance really shifted my perspective and made my path through UW so much more enriching and worthwhile.” 
(Zoe Deenihan’s advice to future psychology majors) 

Zoe Deenihan
Headshot of Zoe Deenihan

Zoe Deenihan is graduating with a B.S. in psychology and as a member of the Psychology Honors Program cohort. Zoe was born in Liverpool, UK, and has lived many places before settling here in Seattle. 

Favorite memory as a psychology major: This sounds really cheesy, but it might be picking up my printed research poster and knowing that I had just finished something I had been working on for the past two years. I had transferred to UW largely to be able to get involved in research, but when I got started I was definitely intimidated by how much actually went into it. Seeing the finished poster really opened my eyes to how much I had grown through the process and made me fall in love with it all over again. 

Most proud accomplishment: Winning an award for my abstract at the 2022 Western Psychological Association conference! I was able to go to Portland to present in a poster session and I got to meet so many other people and start thinking about new ideas for where to take my research in the future. Receiving the award felt like confirmation I had made the right choice and was on the right path. 

Zoe would like to thank: So many people! I am so grateful to the advising team that has answered so many of my questions and emails, and to my professors and mentors that have helped me to grow and explore new ideas and interests. An especially big thank you to Abril Beretta who made it possible to survive through the stats series and taking 23 credits my last quarter! 


“I would encourage future UW psychology majors not to put so much pressure on themselves. It’s easy to get so overwhelmed with career planning and deadlines that you forget that psychology is fun, and it’s a privilege to study it at UW.” 
(Nick Finley’s advice to future psychology majors) 

Nick Finley
Headshot of Nick Finley

Nick Finley is graduating with a B.A. in psychology and a chemistry minor. He has also completed the pre-medicine sequence of classes. Nick is originally from Vancouver, Washington. 

Favorite memory as a psychology major: Taking biopsychology during my junior year. It was the first time I had seen biology and chemistry applied in the context of the human mind, and I loved how fun Dr. Andelin made the class.  

Most proud accomplishment: The academic accomplishment I’m most proud of would be taking the MCAT (medical school entrance exam), at the end of last summer. It was by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever attempted, and I exceeded my score expectations by a lot. I found that much of my psychology coursework gave me an advantage on the test!  

Nick would like to thank: I’d love to thank the guys I live with at the 17th Ave House for helping me make it this far. The men I live with there are some of the most genuine, supportive, and entertaining people I’ve ever met, and I’m going to miss them dearly after I graduate.  


“Get to know your professors and mentors, and don’t be afraid to ask for extensions. They want to help you. I know what it's like to feel small in a big school. If you’re a minority from marginalized backgrounds, know that your communities want you to succeed and everyone is rooting for you, especially me.” 
(Alison Yomira Marin’s advice to future psychology majors) 

Alison Yomira Marin
Headshot of Alison Yomira Marin

Alison Yomira Marin will graduate with a B.A. in psychology. Alison’s hometown is Toppenish, Washington. 

Favorite memory as a psychology major: As a student studying a very human topic, I appreciate that assignments in most of my psychology classes were very student-focused, meaning we were responsible for creating our assignments, choosing our topics, and applying what we’re learning in class to those assignments. I got to write an essay analyzing the personality of an anime character I like and I got to write an essay about the importance of recognizing gender identities in the healthcare system, a topic that is important to me. 

Most proud accomplishment: Taking part in the 2022 Diversity Leadership Conference and creating a workshop with a friend talking about our experiences as first-generation latine students at UW and opening the discussion with the audience and UW alumni on how to affirm our sense of belonging. 

Alison would like to thank: I’d like to thank my psychology professors, my mentors, the SIBLab, my family, my friends, and my partner Luci, for helping me get to where I am. 

“Love your whole human self and find your humans, the ones that give you unconditional positive regard, shout your praises from the rooftops and furiously support all aspects of your identity. Be that human for your besties, too.” 
(Nichole Sams’s advice to future psychology majors) 


Nichole Sams is graduating with a B.A. in psychology, as well as but heavy concentration study in equity, anti-racism, and sexuality, and as a member of the Psychology Honors Program cohort. Nichole is from Maple Valley, Washington. 

Favorite memory as a psychology major: Being nominated by Dr. Chantel Prat and selected for the Husky 100 along with my honors buddy Tara Gorstein. 

Most proud accomplishment: I am most proud of the clinical work I was able to engage in after taking a Psych 448 class about Behavioral Activation. I was selected by the professors to take part in a pilot program training Bachelor’s level students in a short lay-delivered six week intervention. 

Nichole would like to thank: I really want to give a big thanks to my kiddos, Grayson and Renley, who are my inspiration. Also, to all my loved ones who have supported me through the journey. They’ve believed in me in my darkest moments, and made sure the journey was FUN along the way. 


“Try to make some impact in your community, even if it is something small. It can be joining a student club, TAing for a professor, or anything similar to that so that your four years of college are more than just school.”  
(Sylvia Sun’s advice to future psychology majors) 

Sylvia Sun
Headshot of Sylvia Sun

Sylvia (Ziqi) Sun is graduating with a B.S. in psychology and as a member of the Psychology Honors Program cohort. Sylvia is from Hangzhou, China.  

Favorite memory as a psychology major: Along with a friend, I cofounded a Chinese international students-based psychology club called “Hua Psychology.” We used our psychology club platform to share mental health resources with people who need access to the resources. We also collaborated with ASUW to offer an on-campus event to help students release their stress. I enjoyed seeing people's happy faces after they participated in our activities.  

Most proud accomplishment: As a Psychology Honors Program student, with support from my mentors, I designed my study and did independent data collection in China regarding whether Measurement-based Care (MBC - MBC is the practice of incorporating systematic assessment of patients' progress and outcomes throughout treatment as an evidence-based way of informing treatment decisions), can change Chinese people's attitudes toward mental health counseling. I found significant results. By having this result, I hope to make some changes in my community.  

Sylvia would like to thank: I would like to thank my friend Zhaoyi Chen, who cofounded “Hua Psychology” with me. Also, to Dr. Corey Fagan and Kara Dastrup, who mentored me in my honors program. I would also like to thank Dr. Laura Little, who helped and supported me with my study's data analysis.  



“Keep going. Even when the workload is heavy, personal life is hard, and it seems like doors are shutting. Just keep going. You have everything you need to succeed, but be sure to persevere and keep steady with the course. Reach out for help when needed, we are all rooting for you! The beauty of being a psychology major is that this is the perfect department/community to go through it together, lean on your peers and professors and advisors.” 
(Madison Truitt’s advice to future psychology majors) 

Madison Kaa'yis'taan Truitt
Headshot of Madison Truitt

Madison Kaa’yis’taan Truitt is graduating with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in law, societies, and justice. Madison’s hometown is Juneau, Alaska. 

Favorite memory as a psychology major: I have a few favorite memories, more like many wonderful favorite memories! But two that stand out are getting to be a peer leader for PSYCH 299 and getting to be one of the first students to take Native American Psychology with Dr. Tyler Jimenez. Getting to meet and hopefully provide support for all the amazing incoming psychology transfer students in the PSYCH 299 class felt so full circle. In the Native American Psychology class, being able to take a course in psychology from a professor who also shared an Indigenous identity was so special and encouraging. It was an experience that validated the need for Indigenous peoples to be in these spaces and to pursue not just psychology but higher education as a whole. 

Most proud accomplishment: First, I am proud of myself for continuing to apply to UW. Even after getting rejected I am extremely proud I persisted to get into the school I where I knew I was meant to be. Second, I am so proud to have gotten through and made it to graduation. Finally, I am really proud of myself for continuing to put myself out there within UW and beyond. I was nervous I wasn't qualified for the Chandler Scholarship, I was nervous I wouldn't be qualified to be a keynote speaker, I was nervous to represent the Indigenous student community. But, my goodness, those have been such highlights and brought so much joy to my life. I am so proud that I took on those challenges and have been blessed enough to have those opportunities and to do them all (hopefully) well! 

Madison would like to thank: Huge thanks to Carrie Perrin (I wouldn't have gotten this far or accomplished this much without your friendship, mentorship, and guidance), to Toby, Michael, Kat, Navon, Lukas, and many more friends I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with at ASUW. Thanks to Dr. Tyler Jimenez whose teaching and work inspired me in ways I didn't know I needed to keep going in this field. To the Indigenous elders in the state of Washington – we are able to look to the future with the knowledge, love, and guidance you give each of us Native students. And finally, to my family who have passed on and who are still here who are related by blood and related by choice – you have seen me through every up and every down and supported me through thick and thin.  


Psychology is among the top Departments in undergraduate teaching at the UW and the leading Department offering faculty-supervised undergraduate research. Support undergraduates in the Department of Psychology with a gift to the Friends of Psychology Fund, which supports social and learning opportunities for students, as well as programs like the Psychology Writing Center. To support undergraduates undertaking research opportunities with clinical psychology applications, consider a gift to the James Steele Endowed Scholarship.