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Commencement Stories: Andrea

The Research Fellow

Like so many freshmen before her, Andrea Kalchik arrived at Ohio Northern University knowing exactly what she wanted to study. She wanted to learn why people do things, why we humans behave the way we do. So she majored in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience to study why our brains send the impulses that become behavior.

But the young scholar soon learned that neuroscience is concerned more with biology than with behavior, at least behavior in the way she wanted to study it.

“I thought it was really interesting, but as I got farther along, I realized that I didn’t want to be looking at such a molecular level of things all of the time. I was really more interested in learning about people and how they think,” she says.

After switching her concentration to general psychology, the world opened up to her. She got involved with undergraduate research her sophomore year and eventually became the head research assistant in Dr. Phillip Zoladz’s stress and memory research lab. In her junior year, she took a class on cognitive psychology and found her calling.

“That class was my answer. I had liked everything about psychology up to that point, and I was getting nervous because I didn’t know where I wanted to focus. But then it was like, ‘This is it! This is everything that I’ve been searching for.’”

Kalchik with Sarah Woelke, BA ’12, at
Neuroscience 2012 in New Orleans.

Kalchik has had an outstanding academic career at ONU. A continuous resident on the dean’s list, she’s presented at national psychology conferences in New Orleans and San Diego and even helped write a book chapter titled “Amygdala-Induced Modulation of Cognitive Brain Structures Underlies Stress-Induced Alterations of Learning and Memory: Importance of Stressor Timing and Sex Differences.” Outside of the classroom she’s been the president of ONU’s chapter of Psi Chi, the national psychology honorary; the vice president of Psi Sigma, ONU’s psychology club; and an active member of the Newman Club.

Kalchik parlayed her college career into a Presidential University Fellowship from the University of Notre Dame, an honor bestowed on only 25 incoming graduate students. She will pursue a doctoral degree in psychology in the cognition, brain and behavior Area, where she will conduct research into memory and forgetting with Dr. G.A. Radvansky.

She credits ONU with helping her earn her fellowship and with preparing her for what is to come. As head lab assistant for Zoladz, she held a position of authority and managed multiple projects, something she’ll do as a graduate student. She spent the fall semester of her senior year preparing for the graduate school application and interview process as part of her senior capstone. She believes her applied statistics minor helped set her apart from other candidates because experimental psychology is heavily reliant on statistics. But more than anything, she credits the psychology department faculty.

“I’m going to miss a lot of things about ONU, but I’ll miss my professors the most. I would not be where I am without them. I know that,” she says. “They’ve been so supportive, and they’ve guided me without doing the work for me. They let me figure things out for myself.”

Read more Class of 2014 Commencement Stories