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Rachel L. Wasilewski (Ratliff '03)
Senior Student Recruiter, Virginia Commonwealth University
What was your favorite experience when you were majoring in psychology at Oglethorpe?
I truly enjoyed the feeling of community within the Psychology Department. I knew that I could go to my professors and that they would take the time to help me understand complex concepts. I loved the great discussions we had in class and how they would continue into study groups.
What was your favorite psychology class and why?
I didn't realize it at the time, but History and Systems of Psychology ended up being my favorite class. It was great to see how ideas in psychology had progressed through time, and it left me excited to see what might happen in the future. It helped me synthesize the information I had learned over my academic career and allowed me to see how all of the "parts" of psychology moved together.
What did you do immediately following graduation from OU and how did it affect your path in life to date?
I went to work in academic advising for an Aviation and Aerospace school in Florida. I was able to take my love of education and combine it with my love of psychology to help individuals navigate their best path for an academic career. I was able to work with many of the great men and women in our armed forces, experience the exciting world of aviation, and take classes in industrial management. I met my wonderful husband while there and, in fact, our son is named after the school. I still work in education, but I've changed over to the recruitment side where I work with traditional undergraduate students interested in engineering.
What are you doing today and what inspired you to enter that field/profession/position?
I am the Senior Recruiter for a school of Engineering in Virginia. As a first generation college student in my family, I remember feeling like we didn't realize how much we didn't know about the college process. I was lucky and ended up at Oglethorpe, but I always worried about students who were not as lucky and didn't have the fantastic college experience I received. Through a combination of my psychology degree and the passion for the engineering and technology field that I found over the years, I've focused my career toward helping students interested in science and technology find the right college fit.
How do you use your psychology undergraduate experience in your work or life today?
I feel like I use my degree daily. I actually used the term “belongingness needs” when speaking recently with a family. I would say that I use principles from organizational psychology and social psychology the most, but there is also a large component of dealing with how students perceive the world around them and the future that lies ahead. I know that there are many people that go into my field without a psychology background, however I know that I am a better counselor for the students I work with because of the experience I gained as an undergraduate student of psychology
What advice do you have for students earning a degree in psychology at OU or who might be considering your profession?
I think it is extremely important to know yourself, know your passion and your drive. If you go into a field like psychology without any idea of how you plan to use the information, you miss out on taking really great electives that will help you toward your goal. If you are trying to find your passion let the curriculum and the professors inspire you, explore all that you can, take advantage of the wealth of knowledge that exists. Psychology is topically a HUGE field and can be a solid foundation for so many different amazing opportunities.