Katie PluckerPsychology major
Chancellor, South Dakota
Northwestern has given Katie the opportunity to travel the world—she has studied in Turkey and served in impoverished neighborhoods of Jacksonville, Florida. On campus, the member of the Psi Chi honor society has danced in RUSH and served as a tutor and teaching assistant. She plans to go to graduate school after Northwestern.
Coming from a small high school and loving that experience, I knew a small college would be the best fit for me. I wanted a college that would challenge me academically. I heard about Northwestern from a friend who had nothing but good things to say. During my visit, I was blown away by the friendly and welcoming atmosphere. When I visited with professors and sat in on a class, it became evident to me I was going to be a name, not just a number. I was also impressed by the academic rigor. I knew Northwestern would be the place I would call home for the next four years.
Psychological science inevitably has ideas or theories that make me uncomfortable in terms of what I believe about God, but one of the most important things I’ve learned is that science and religion don’t have to be at war with one another. Science is a gift from God that can be used to study the world he gave us—including our brain and behavior! I definitely struggled with this idea at first, because I wanted to know all the answers. One professor told me, “Ask the questions, and let God be God.” That statement made me realize my finite mind can never fully understand the work of an infinite God—and that’s OK!
One of the psychology department’s most significant strengths is the education we receive in statistics and research. A whole year of the psychology major is devoted to statistics and the research process. Students learn how to be both good producers and good consumers of research—something that is helpful in any career field! This program is tough, but the focus on psychology as a science will give me an advantage in graduate school.
The psychology faculty are truly outstanding. It is evident they really care about their students, and I feel valued by each one of them. I feel comfortable talking to them about anything, be it academic or personal. They are brilliant people who make learning fun and interesting. Each of them has really invested in me, and the relationships I’ve built with them are so valuable. Honestly, the psychology department feels like a big family—and the professors have a lot to do with that.
Before coming to Northwestern, I thought I knew what I believed, but I didn’t really think about why I believed it. My experience here has made me a critical thinker, not only about my faith, but in all areas of life. I’m challenged in every class to listen to people who have very different ideas than I do and to use others’ viewpoints and perspectives to help shape my own. Now, instead of just telling you I believe something, I can tell you why I believe it —and I also can tell you that I may very well be wrong. I have learned to really learn—not just from professors, but from my friends and classmates as well.