May 25, 2019  

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Students Chosen as 2018 Psychology Scholars

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Eleven undergraduates have been chosen for the second class of the Psychology Scholars program at The University of Southern Mississippi.

The program, which began in 2017, offers high-achieving students - particularly those from diverse backgrounds - the opportunity to serve as peer mentors for new students in the department and other experiences through specialized workshops designed to foster success in graduate education and careers. Applications are accepted in the fall of the junior year.

The Psychology Scholars program is the brainchild of Department of Psychology faculty members Dr. Michael Madson and Dr. Bonnie Nicholson, who also serve as advisers for the program. It aligns with the American Psychological Association’s (APA) goal of expanding diversity in graduate education, particularly in psychology, and is supported by USM’s Quality Enhancement Program (QEP) – Pathways Grant Program. A reception honoring the new class of scholars will be held Nov. 30

Madson and Nicholson said the application process to become a 2018 Psychology Scholar was quite competitive, with a significant increase in applications. The incoming Scholars not only completed an application, but participated in selection interviews.

“Because of the quality of applications, we were able to select 11 psychology majors to participate in the program for 2018. Thus, the word is spreading and interest in the program is growing,” Dr. Madson said. “A larger group of Scholars also enables us to reach more incoming freshman and transfer psychology majors, thus enhancing our efforts to support student success in the psychology department.

“Overall, we’re very pleased about the advancement of the program, and excited for a new year with this next group of Scholars.”

In 2018, the program will place an increased emphasis on research mentorship and training; the graduate school application process; and counseling skills training. To achieve these objectives, a workshop series has been developed for the scholars focusing on these areas.

Tiara Watson, a junior from Grenada, Miss., applied to the Psychology Scholars Program because she recognized it as “an unparalleled opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills to equip me to be a successful competitor in the graduate school application process, as well as secure personal and professional development.”  She was also enticed by the opportunity to mentor freshman psychology students, believing in the importance of imparting the knowledge she’s gained to help them navigate through the psychology department and become aware of the many opportunities available to them. 

After graduation, Watson plans to attend graduate school to acquire a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and help individuals with mental illnesses “live happier and healthier lives.” 

“I’m honored to be a part of this amazing and unique opportunity, and excited to be able to discover and explore additional facets of psychology and positively influence younger students,” Watson said. “I’m confident it will provide me with hands-on exposure to enriching opportunities and professionals in different fields of psychology. I’m also enthusiastic about the chance to gain mentorship, advice, information, skills, training, and direction in applying for graduate school, and become a more well-rounded psychology major who is actively involved with my department.” 

Other 2018 Psychology Scholars include:

*Hailee Buras - Carriere, Miss.
*Ashley Funkhouser - Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
*Victoria Gilbert - Carriere, Miss.
*Corai Jackson - Jackson, Miss.
*Japriest Jerry - Batesville, Miss.
*Conner King – Mandeville, La.
*Promise Lemoine - Carriere, Miss.
*Laquita Simpson - New Orleans, La.
*Latisha Swygert - Clinton, Miss.
*Brittany Wright - Memphis, Tenn.

For information about the Southern Miss Department of Psychology, visit