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Senior Profiles

Akintokunbo Akinbajo
Akintokunbo Akinbajo
Jon Hojnacki
Jon Hojnacki
Michael Key
Michael Key
Callie Knight
Callie Knight
Jennifer Lee
Jennifer Lee
Kayti Marr
Kayti Marr
Yvette Morris
Yvette Morris
Kim Shalvey
Kim Shalvey
Debbie Wells
Debbie Wells
Feature

Tracy Berens
By Renata Daconti, a freshman majoring in human biology. She is a member of Presidential Honors Society, Optometry Club and Environmental Task Force.

Tracy BerensTracy Berens:
Hometown: Rochester, NY

Major: Psychology
Career plans: Educate the public about safe sex

Expectations...
“I was really surprised when I got to UAlbany. I guess I was a little naive to think that “Oh, it’s a state school, it’s not going to be so great, but when I got here, I realized this is a great education and I am not going to be broke for the rest of my life trying to pay it off.”

Influences in choosing your major...
“At first I thought I was going to be pre-med, but after I took the chemistry class, I realized that there was no way that I was going to make it through organic chemistry and classes like that. So, I took “Introduction to Psychology.” Then in my second semester I took “The Psychology of Human Sexuality” and that was pretty much the determining factor for me becoming a psychology major.”

Life changing moments...Tracy with her Fiancée
“Well, 9/11 had a really big impact on me, because my fiancée is in the military and that affected where he gets stationed and the rest of our lives. I guess it was kind of a reality check for me, because living in this country, I thought that everything was so safe and I was not affected by anything going on in the world. But then I realized ‘Yes, you are affected.’ ”

Culture shock...
“People at UAlbany are so different from people back home and yet so much the same. I’d walk around campus and be like “oh, did I go to high school with them? No, they just look the same.” Then I met people in my freshman year dorm who were different than anyone I’ve ever known before. The diversity on this campus was a culture shock for me.”

Professional, Personal and Social Growth...
“...I’ve come into contact and interacted with so many different people and that’s how I grew socially. I did a lot of public speaking and publications which really helped me a lot. I was very shy and introverted when I got here. But there were people here who helped me grow so much, like Carol Stenger at the Health Center -- she has really influenced who I want to be and what I want to do. She has been a real mentor for me.”

Carol Stenger had good things to say about Tracy as well. “Tracy has been a dedicated member of my Project SHAPE: Sexual Health & Peer Education program for two years. It has been a true pleasure to work with her. She is a bright, talented, well-rounded young woman who strives for excellence in all she does. She is always my top choice as a co-presenter because she exudes a level of confidence and poise well beyond her years.”

Public speaking experience...
“I had lots of much-needed public speaking experience through Project SHAPE, talking to undergrads about HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and other issues dealing with sexuality. Once you’ve demonstrated the use of a latex condom on a life-like, plastic, human phallus in front of 200 students, you pretty much get over your fears of speaking in front of people!”

Favorite professor...Tracy at PsiChi Meeting
“…Gordon Gallup in the Psychology department. He is just so enthusiastic about the work he does and the field he is in. It’s really motivating. When you hear someone talk, who’s really intrigued with what that they are researching, it makes you sit up in your chair and say ‘wow, I wonder what he is going to say next.’ He’s an awesome professor.”

“I have nothing but praise for Tracy,” said Gallup. “She is a superb student. Tracy is bright, hard working, and very conscientious. She is finishing her honors thesis under my direction, and it promises to be an important, potentially influential research project with important practical as well as theoretical implications.”

Accomplishments...
Tracy is a Presidential Scholar in the Psychology program, a member of the Presidential Honors Society, member of Project SHAPE, secretary of the National Honor Society in Psychology (Psi Chi), member of Dr. Gallup’s evolutionary psychology lab, an athletic academic tutor, and a teaching assistant at a Human Sexuality Class.

What the future holds for Tracy...
This coming June, she will marry her high school sweetheart. Then she plans to go on to graduate school at Widener University in Philadelphia in the Human Sexuality Education program. After that, she will move to North Carolina to live with her husband at Fort Bragg. She plans to educate young adults and teenagers about safe sex.

Advice for freshman...
“Get involved, talk to professors to find out what is available to you. If you want to find your way and make a name for yourself, you really have to push for it and talk to professors and introduce yourself. Show that you are interested.”

UAlbany resources...
“There are hundreds of clubs and organizations. If you have an interest that no one has organized before you can find others interested and make your own club. Also, there are all kinds of scholarship opportunities that are not widely known. So, if you just talk to people who are in your area of interest they can let you know about special opportunities: studying abroad, going on trips, scholarships and grants, research opportunities.”

In her own words --three (busy!) days in the life of senior, Tracy Berens…

Wednesday, April 14th.
Tonight we had a Psi Chi meeting. Our president couldn't be there, so the vice president and I had to step in and lead the meeting. Our inductions ceremony is coming up this weekend, and there are lots of things to do to get ready for that day. We have a rehearsal on Friday to practice the timeline and get our speeches straightened out. At the meeting tonight, there was also a speaker panel of graduate students there to talk to undergrads about attending graduate school. They were all from the UAlbany Psychology Department, in different fields of psychology, including cognitive, clinical and social psychology. They had lots of information for us, although most was too late for me, as I've already applied. I'm hoping to hear from Widener University in the next couple of weeks. They are taking much longer than I'd expected to get back to me, but I hear the same thing from other grad school-hopefuls as well. The meeting went well and I think everyone is looking forward to the inductions ceremony.

Thursday, April 15th.
Tonight I handed out questionnaires as part of my research study for my honors thesis. I went into one of the undergraduate psychology classes and asked the students to fill out a quick, 15 minute survey. Unfortunately, since I couldn't offer extra credit for doing it, most of the students left and I only got a handful of participants. Hopefully, tomorrow and next week when I ask for participants, more people will stick around and help me out. Then I'll be able to input my data and run statistical analysis and see if any of the results are significant. I only have 2 weeks until I'm scheduled to present this project, and I got a really late start, so we'll see if I'm able to finish in time. I had a few other projects started, but none of them worked out so I've had to start over again. This will be my last attempt at completing my honors thesis. Even if I don't get it done, I've learned a lot in the process, namely, that research is not for me.

Friday, April 16th.
This morning I went into another psychology class to collect more data. Again, only a few people stayed to fill out the questionnaire. Hopefully, we'll have more luck next week. Today's lab meeting went well. We talked about the poster presentations that some of the lab members will be giving at a conference in Scranton, Pennsylvania in another week. We went over a power point presentation of one of the grad students and gave her ideas and suggestions for how she could improve the presentation. One of the presentations at the conference is on a study I worked on in the lab with the grad students and a few undergrads. It's exciting to be an author on a poster that will be presented at a conference. Another good thing to put on a curriculum vitae. I had to leave the lab meeting early to go TA. I am the teaching assistant for the undergraduate psychology of human sexuality class. We are giving an exam on Monday, so I'm sure some students will want to ask questions before class begins. I really enjoy TA-ing. It's nice to meet students who are interested in the same things as me.

 


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