A Passion for Psychology

Published on July 11, 2013

When it was time for Sarah Penney, a native of Glace Bay, N.S., to apply for university, she had a few must-haves in mind to help her during the decision process. First, she wanted to attend a university that offered a science program with a highly regarded reputation. Second, she was looking for an institution which was known for small class sizes, and lastly, she was keen on staying close to her family and friends. With all of this in mind, Sarah chose Cape Breton University, which proved to be a perfect fit.

To Sarah’s delight, CBU has offered even more than she expected, which has further validated her decision to study at Cape Breton University. “My favorite thing about CBU is the people that I have met during my time spent at university,” she explains.

“Thanks to the small class sizes, I have had the opportunity to get to know all of my professors, many of whom have inspired me with their passion and dedication to their subjects of interest. I appreciate each of them going above and beyond to help their students. I also like the fact that CBU has a tight knit, community feel.”
Sarah is working toward attaining a Bachelor of Science degree with honours in psychology. “I chose to study psychology because I have always had a keen interest in mental health and emotional well-being.”feature-student-sarah-penney01

This interest started early for Sarah, as she explains that while in senior high school, she read about different areas of psychology in her spare time. “I always thought that a career as a psychologist would be a good fit for me,” she recalls. After attending her first psychology class Sarah knew she was on the right path. “I knew then that I had made the right decision and that this was the area of science that I wanted to study,” she says.
“Since then, I have had the opportunity to take many more classes, and it seems that the more classes I take, the more interested I become in the many topics within the field – I absolutely love it!”

Beginning in the fall of 2012 and continuing throughout the summer, Sarah has been able to take her love of psychology out of the classroom and into the research lab while working with Dr. Erin Robertson, an Assistant Professor of Psychology. Sarah says that this experience will provide her with valuable skills which will be used frequently in her future career.

“Because clinical psychology is a graduate program that is largely research based, knowledge and skills acquired through research experience during my undergraduate degree will serve as a basis for which I hope to build on throughout my graduate education,” Sarah explains.

This opportunity has also given Sarah experience in working with others in the lab. “Working in a research lab requires the researchers to depend on each other and work together as a team toward accomplishing a common goal. Thus, responsibility and cooperation are two qualities that I feel have been amplified by being a part of a research team.”

Working under Dr. Robertson and with her fellow researchers, Sarah has been able to take the concepts and theories she learned in the classroom, and use them in real life scenarios, which is not only great lab exposure, but also hands-on learning.

“Being a student researcher has been and continues to be one of the best experiences that I have had during my university education,” says Sarah. “I would recommend getting involved in research to any student who is interested in pursuing a graduate education.”

Sarah, who is a member of the Psychology Society, volunteer at the CBU Women’s Centre and Youth Peer Program, and has worked as a tutor, is anticipating graduation in spring of 2014. “I hope to pursue a master’s degree and a PhD in Clinical Psychology,” she explains. “Although my plans for graduate school will require me to move away for quite some time, I eventually hope to return home to practice in Cape Breton. I am hopeful that I can be a part of improving mental health in our area.”