Dean's ScholarSecond time honoree
College of Social Sciences
After several years of working in the business world, I took a break to stay home and raise my two children. When my youngest one started kindergarten, I realized it was time to go back to the “real world.” I had no clue as to what I wanted to do with my life. What I did know was that I didn’t want to go back to the same stressful, pressure-filled money-oriented environment of the past. I had changed. I found myself interested in people’s behavior, good or bad, and wondered what I could do to help them. I felt that since my life was so rich and fulfilling, it was important to find a way to give back. Now was the time for such a move.
I chose Psychology as my major and Sociology as my minor because of my desire to work with people in overcoming life’s hardships even if it is just helping one person at a time. The Psychology aspect of my education has helped me to understand many different reasons that people are the way they are – nature versus nurture came up once or twice in my classes. The Sociology ingredient has taught me about community service and that we all need to step up to the plate and help overcome societal problems. I learned compassion from stories of inspiration and of despair, which always left me feeling extremely grateful for all that I have had in my life. This led to the area of Community Psychology, which is a blending of both Psychology and Sociology. This means basically trying to prevent problems in society through education and awareness so that you don’t have the individual problems. A good example of community psychology is teaching (either through school or intervention) a group of pre-teens about healthy relationships with family and friends, and making them aware of non-violent ways of handling conflict. Later on, the same kids as teenagers would be taught about dating violence, with the hope that this group would grow up and never experience domestic violence in adulthood.
This award is so special since it shows that when you put your heart into something that you love, it really makes a big difference. This is so opposite from when I went to school to get my AA degree (so many years ago) since I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and wasn’t particularly interested in my classes. It showed with my average grades.
My parents have always been inspirational to me because they keep learning all the time. They both received master’s degrees when I was in school so I watched them study and graduate. They have mentored people in English and Math, and still continue to take classes to learn something new, while having fun at the same time.
My husband, Fred, has especially been my rock. He has been so supportive and encouraging with my education. Through some of the rocky days he convinced me to “never give up.” His help with our kids and the household, not to mention driving on my carpool days, has made all the difference.
My advice to others who are thinking about going back to school at a later age is to “just do it.” This time around, education is a lot more interesting, especially when you are taking classes that you want to take. Your many life experiences help immensely when it comes to learning this time around. Those younger students have nothing on you. All of this may seem overwhelming at first, but day by day, semester by semester, the classes will be checked off the requirement list. Finally the day will come when you pick up your cap and gown and realize your dream is about to come true. It hits you that you’re about to be a college graduate!!
A few words from her nominating professor…
"Cathie was one of the strongest students in a senior capstone seminar pertaining to interpersonal violence. She demonstrated commitment, sensitivity, and professional skills in providing violence prevention education to youth, undergraduate, and adult audiences. She was able to connect individual problems to broader societal issues and demonstrated a firm understanding of the concepts involved in taking a prevention approach to addressing problems. She understands the needs of youth in context and she has natural empathy and insight in applying academic knowledge to work with youth in culturally competent ways."
– Professor Elena Klaw