Fellows on the Path: Page 6 of 6
Fellows on the Path
Stephanie Yee has a knack for following her heart and taking sensible, incremental steps toward her goals. From Concord, N.H., she kicked off her first year with Connect, a program focused on helping first-generation and multicultural students make the transition from high school to college. Getting an early introduction to college and to meet others like her "was critical for me," recalls Yee.
That year she lived in a Christiansen Hall build-up with two other first-year students. "It was definitely cramped," says Yee, "but it was good!"
Besides, Yee had hit the ground running. She joined UNH WildActs, a Social Change Theatre Troupe. She participated in the MLK Leadership Summit. As a theatre and dance major, Yee participated in many aspects of several productions. She was also drawn to tutoring, mentoring and assisting. Throughout her four years, she worked with people ranging in age from young children to college students to the elderly. Still the question remained how to put this all together?
As a junior, she took a counseling course with Joan Glutting, clinical associate professor of psychology. "Professor Glutting was really sassy and that was fun," says Yee. That same year, Yee became a research assistant for Assistant Professor Katie Edwards' Bringing in the Bystander prevention program, which teaches that everyone has a role to play in ending violence against women.
After developing an interest in research, Yee applied to the McNair Scholars Program, was accepted, and then was required to reach out to a faculty member in order to pursue her own research project. "When I read about the research interests of different faculty members, Professor Cohn's interest in social justice, race relations and the criminal justice system matched up with mine," says Yee. "I wrote her an email, we met and it was a go."
The fall of her junior year, Yee wrote her research proposal. The proposal was accepted, allowing her to begin conducting research that following summer. It was her first thesis and it was a true marathon.
Her project, "Considering Racial Bias and Police Legitimacy in Mock Trials with Race Manipulations," examined how subjects interpreted a mock trial using the same audio, but varying the race/ethnicity of the different participants: a police eyewitness and a defendant. The race/ethnicity variants were Black, White, and Hispanic, which worked out to nine combinations for their experimental groups. "For a first project, it was very ambitious," says Yee. "It's been a tremendous experience. I love social justice. I understand the passion and rage that people are feeling within the Black Lives Matter movement. But, I want to look at empirical research and that's my place in the movement."
Yet, Yee has developed interest for another vital strand of psychological research with Professor Rebecca Warner, who teaches a course on the psychology of happiness. With Warner as her advisor, Yee wrote her honors thesis on gratitude. Two key research facts that Yee cites in her introduction are (1) people are happier when they express gratitude, and (2) most undergraduates only express gratitude once a week. Yee notes that more research needs to be done to explain why people do not express gratitude more, because it is found to be associated with happiness and well-being.
This past winter, Yee, now a graduating senior and seasoned student leader, introduced MLK Celebration keynote speakers Professors Spencer Overton and Andy Smith. She also spoke about the significance of voting and education equity. This spring Yee won an Undergraduate Research Conference Award of Excellence for her McNair research project. And, she was the psychology department’s Carroll Award recipient, which is given to an outstanding senior.
Next fall, Yee will begin a Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland, College-Park to realize her dream of combining social justice research and clinical practice. She aspires to one day become a psychotherapist, specializing in multicultural counseling, and using research on intersectionality to inform her practice.
Photo by Perry Smith Photography