When Diana Morelen arrived at W&M, she fully expected to become a marketing major.
Soon the College's general education requirements (GERs) had her enrolling in an intro psychology course, and her interest in the discipline was piqued - to the point she's majoring in Psychology and writing a senior honors thesis examining the effects of culture and ethnicity on emotion regulation.
Her overall concentration is clinical child psychology.
"I find the cross-cultural elements fascinating," Diana said. Her thesis pertains specifically to sub-Saharan populations - populations, she notes, that haven't received a lot of attention in her field. In studying emotional regulation, Diana has focused on sadness and anger. "I am currently investigating whether children are internalizing, inhibiting, or externalizing these emotions, and the implications of both culture and ethnicity on these behaviors."
As a James Monroe Scholar, Diana has done plenty of research before. Professor Janice Zeman, Diana's honors thesis advisor, also worked with her during her sophomore year on a Monroe project. That summer, Diana studied in Ghana: "I volunteered in a school and orphanage, and I conducted research on emotion regulation." She cites her experience in Ghana as one of the most valuable she's had.
Diana has participated in psychology conferences at the University of Virginia and in San Francisco; the latter was held by APA, the American Psychological Association. With a Bionetics Summer Service grant, she volunteered with Virginia's Early Head Start program, working with a teacher of at-risk infants and toddlers.
Currently she serves as president of Psi Chi, the psychology honors society, and works in a research lab with Professor Zeman. In her spare time, she volunteers with Baseball Buddies, a program that makes it possible for special needs children to play baseball. She's also involved with the College's branch of SEAC, the Student Environmental Action Coalition.
Last summer Diana worked in New Hampshire in Wediko Children Services' psycho-educational summer treatment program. For six weeks, she served as a residential treatment counselor with children aged seven to eighteen, all of whom had been diagnosed with emotional or behavioral disorders.
"It was my first real clinical experience," she said, "and it definitely confirmed my desire for a future in clinical psychology." She has applied to clinical Ph.D. programs across the country and hopes to work with faculty who specialize in emotion regulation.
"My underlying passion lies with helping children. In the future, I would love to pursue a career that enables me to follow the science/practitioner model - integrating both research and clinical practice. An ideal job for me would be working in a hospital where I am able to conduct research in addition to touching lives on an individual level."