Student Stories- Psychology

Haylie Virginia Psychology Canisius

Hailey Virginia  finds her passion as psychology major at Canisius University

Like many students heading off to college, Hailey Virginia really wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. A native of Phoenix, NY, north of Syracuse, Virginia was recruited by Canisius to compete on the school’s cross country and track teams, and she started out thinking she would major in pre-law. Virginia changed course when she took an introduction to psychology class.

“If you had told me then that one day I would be earning a PhD in psychology, I would have laughed,” Virginia says. “I fell in love with that intro course and a second psych course with Jenn Lodi-Smith, PhD, really set me on the path to a career in psychology. The more I learned, the more interesting it became.

Virginia earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Canisius University and is currently a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Clark University in Massachusetts, a program that accepts just two percent of its applicants.  She notes that because Canisius is a smaller, tight-knit community, it’s able to offer many different opportunities to learn outside the classroom. Those opportunities gave her skills that are crucial in her doctoral studies.

Virginia worked as a teaching assistant (TA) for Lodi-Smith and other instructors and gained hands-on experience collaborating on faculty research projects in the Psychology Department. She was a psychology lab manager her junior and senior years and selected for the Canisius Earning Excellence Program (CEEP).  CEEP enabled Virginia to apply for funding to work with Lodi-Smith on independent research projects, which is the type of research she is now doing as a PhD candidate.

“The CEEP model translates so well to the graduate relationships you form and the research work you do in a PhD program,” Virginia explains. “You work closely with a mentor, develop research with others and learn how to think critically.”

Haylie currently works closely with instructors at Clark in a clinical psychology research program, studying a broad range of topics that include lesbian, gay and heterosexual perspectives on parenting. She has participated in studies exploring how these perspectives shape individual and family development, particularly within the LGBTQ community. 

As if academics did not keep her busy enough, Virginia ran cross country and track all four years at Canisius. She served as captain in her junior and senior years. The leadership opportunity now serves her well as a PhD student because it taught her responsibility and teamwork with others relying on her. At Clark, Virginia is teaching students, managing labs, doing research and building relationships with many different people.

“My Canisius education truly changed the direction of my life but it wasn’t just the coursework,” Virginia concludes. “It was a combination of my own drive, the close relationships I built with students, teammates and faculty members, and the many different learning experiences.”