University News

Sarama Selected to Prestigious Summer Institute

May 5, 2003

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MACOMB, IL – After three years at Western Illinois University, psychology major Kristin Sarama has the opportunity to step out of her comfort zone and challenge herself with new educational opportunities available only to a select few.

Sarama is among an elite group of 10 collegians selected as a student fellow in the Buffalo State University Psychology Department Summer Institute. The third annual institute, scheduled from June 2 to July 18, is part of the Mental Health Issues in Applied Experimental Life-Span Development Psychology (R25) Education Project funded by the National Institute of Mental Health ( NIMH).

The Glendale Heights student with minors in sociology and law enforcement and justice administration, follows in the footsteps of graduating senior classmate Leanne McNett, WIU's 2002 Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate Award recipient.

Western's first institute participant last summer, McNett researched the effects that positive affect and peer social support may have on drinking motives and alcohol-related problems in college students. Her mentors included Michael MacLean from Buffalo State and Western's Robert C. Intrieri, associate psychology professor. McNett will present her findings to Sarama's institute class this summer.

The seven-week institute consists of a core methodology course in life-span developmental research, ethics seminars and applied research rotations in area agencies and organizations. In the final four weeks, Sarama will develop her research proposal, which likely will involve college students and alcohol. She will implement her study next fall at Western under faculty mentor Intrieri as part of the follow-up collaborative research mentorship.

Sarama will receive a $2,000 stipend, room and board, a tuition waiver for the advanced experimental methods in developmental psychology course and a travel stipend to present her research at a national conference.

"I'm scared, but very excited. This is the first time I'll really get to be off on my own," said Sarama, who wants to become an FBI "profiler."

Sarama explained that while "profiling" is not an FBI job title, special agents assigned to the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) relay on investigation, research, inductive and deductive reasoning, understanding of abnormal behaviors, statistical probabilities and more to assist in apprehending criminals. She has had this as her career goal since the seventh grade and her first viewing of the Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins thriller "The Silence of the Lambs."

"I want to learn as much as I can this summer, come back and conduct my research and get accepted as a presenter at the APA (American Psychological Association) conference," she added. "This would help get me into a good Ph.D. program, which I need to work in profiling."

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