I met Dr. Erickson in her Introduction to Psychology course. This was the classroom with stadium-like seating located to the right of the department’s offices. Early in the semester, as I took my usual seat in the front row, I turned to look back as the rest of my classmates settled in, and I vividly recall the feeling of glee thinking, “Wow, this looks just like the classrooms depicted in movies, how cool!”

I continued to experience that same excitement and novelty of being in school for approximately two years. You see, prior to enrolling at MSU Denver, there was a sort of aesthetic distance between me and university students. I had resigned to the idea that I was not college material, that I simply lacked the mental faculties required for university. Then, Dr. Erickson took me under her wing and invited me into her research team. One project I was involved with studied a reduction in inhibition in the hippocampus as one potential neurobiological explanation for cognitive decline in aging primates. I was also involved in several other research projects and they all enhanced my education in several ways.

For example, I learned that I was capable of simultaneously handling more projects than I was comfortable with while still prioritizing quality over quantity. Applying for a grant was a good exercise in thinking critically and creatively as it required that I write scholarly yet engaging prose. I watched some of my peers at Johns Hopkins scramble for research opportunities and it gave me a greater appreciation for having come out of MSU Denver with four research conference presentations.

More importantly, the bond I now share with Dr. Erickson is a byproduct of that very research; that I was even accepted into my graduate program was in large part due to Dr. Erickson’s unwavering care and support. My experience at MSU Denver imparted lasting lessons on me. For example, last Fall, the fear of failing overwhelmed me and for a fleeting moment even led me to contemplate leaving my master’s program. Then, I remembered the times at MSU Denver where I felt similarly overrun and yet managed not to only persevere, but to also enjoy my academic journey.

I decided that despite my fear and uncertainty, I had to cross the finish line. That more than anything, I wanted to make Dr. Erickson and MSU Denver proud.

Since graduating with my masters degree, I’ve begun studying for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as I will be applying to several behavioral science doctoral programs and dual JD/PhD (in Psychology) programs.