Erynne Dixon is the 2021 Outstanding Senior in Psychology

April 7, 2021 - Caroline Kraft

Erynne Dixon is a senior from Rockville, Maryland. She will graduate in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and minors in Sociology and Law, Justice, and Public Policy . We spoke with Erynne about her experiences in the psychology department at MSU.

Why did you choose to attend MSU?

"I was looking for a Big 10 school because I'm a big sports person. I wanted to go to a school with a good basketball and football team, so I could get tickets to the games. Then I came to a Green and White Day Prospective Freshman Program and met my admissions counselor. They were super nice, and I really felt at home and loved the feeling of campus.

I didn't want to attend the same college as all my friends because I wanted to branch out and try new things. Coming to MSU pushed me out of my comfort zone in a good way."


What made you choose to major in Psychology?

"Psychology has always been the field I enjoyed. My junior year of high school I took an AP Psychology class and thought it was really fun. I've always wanted to understand why people do the things they do. Plus, Psychology has a lot of options. For instance, I was really interested in in forensic psychology at first, and later on I became more interested in therapy."


What activities were you involved in as a Psychology major?

"I've taken advantage of a lot of the opportunities the department offers. My second year, I became a research assistant in Dr. Becker's lab. I presented at UURAF and now I am working on an honor's thesis project about the effects of COVID-19 on students' mental health. I am a Psychology Scholars student, and I am in the honors society, Psi Chi. I came from out of state, so I thought I might as well take advantage of everything." 


Tell us about your experiences as a research assistant. 

"I'd never done research before, and I really enjoyed it. I worked on 9 or 10 projects in Dr. Becker's lab. Many of the projects were attention-based, so we used eye tracking devices and even a shock generator. Like I said, I was initially interested in therapy, but the technology we used opened my eyes to wanting to do research in the future. Being in this lab gave me experience in a lot of different areas that I can translate into research I want to do in the future."

Erynne said being in the lab also helped her improve her public speaking skills. "Public speaking is important for everything. Even if I don't end up doing research, no matter what I do, I need to know how to speak in front of people. I was able to learn how to do this from presenting projects in the lab."


What is your favorite memory of MSU psychology?

"My favorite memory in the psychology department was the first Psychology Scholars meeting where we met our mentors and got MSU Dairy Store Ice cream sandwiches. I love those!"


What is your advice for Psychology majors?

"A lot of people don’t take psychology seriously. They just want to get through it and move on, but you do learn a lot of interesting stuff. If you enjoy psychology, you really should take advantage of all the opportunities we have. Actually listen in the courses, and you will learn important things about yourself and other people. You should try to perform well in classes because, then, instead of having to seek out research opportunities yourself, you could be invited to them."


What are your plans for next year?

"Before COVID I planned to go from undergrad straight to grad school, but I had to adapt that because it was super difficult this year to get into any type of grad program, so I ended up getting a job teaching students with learning disabilities in Maryland. I am going to keep looking at graduate schools, and I still plan to pursue a Ph.D."