Student Spotlight: Sage Volk

Photo Credit: Sage Volk
Wed, 10/09/2019 - 19:58

Major: Psychology
Minor(s): LGBTQ/Sexuality Studies & Women's and Gender Studies
Year in school: Senior
Hometown: West Fargo, North Dakota

Why did you select your major(s) and minor(s)? Were there any experiences that convinced you to declare?
I entered UNL as a computer science student but did not think that is what I wanted to do with my life, so I added Introduction to Psychology to my schedule for my first semester. This class was the only class that I enjoyed that semester and decided to switch my major to Psychology. I added my minors because they fit into my interests of how Psychology intersects with LGBTQA+ populations and gender-based societal constructs.

What is your favorite course you have taken from your program(s) and why?
My favorite course that I have taken was Psychology of Gender, because it was the perfect crossover class that touched on all of my majors and minors. The professor was extremely passionate about the subject matter and the class gave me a new outlook on a variety of topics in psychology.

Who have been some of your strongest mentors or role models here?
I have had two strong role models and mentors during my time at UNL. The first is Kathryn Holland, Ph.D. who is jointly appointed in Psychology and Women's and Gender Studies. I have worked in her research lab and had a class with her. My second mentor has been Rebecca Brock, Ph.D. I have worked in her research lab and worked on individual research endeavors with her. Both are co-advising my Senior Thesis during my final year. Both have also helped shape my research interests and listen to my goals to help guide me towards them.

Do you have research experience (UCARE or other)? If so, please describe your project.
Yes, I have a multitude of experience with research broken out below:

Family Development Lab Research Assistant: I have worked in this lab since May 2017. We study family systems through how the transition into parenthood and family relationships are related to the parents' and children's psychopathology. Some of the most formative aspects of this lab have been: gaining experience with clinical interviewing, behavioral coding, running appointments, and analyzing data.

Sexual Assault and Sexual Health Lab Research Assistant: I have worked in this lab since August 2017. We seek to understand the experiences of sexual assault survivors and how to improve policies and resources around sexual assault. Some of the most formative experiences that I have gained in this lab have been: working with qualitative data, applying codes to transcribed interviews, and contributing to the early startup of the lab.

2018/2019 UCARE Project: For this project, I used data from the Family Development Lab to analyze contributions of partner support in mitigating the negative effects of attachment style on parental depression. 

Senior Honors Thesis Project: For this project, I have developed my own study in which I will be collecting data from individuals who identify as transgender, nonbinary, etc. about how they conceptualize their gender identity. I will be leading a team of undergraduate research assistants to assist me with this project. The outcome of analyzing these interviews is to develop a better measure of gender identity to be used when working with LGBTQA+ populations.

Have you had an internship/job? If so, please describe it and explain how your major(s) helped you with it.
I have had multiple jobs throughout college, but the most relevant work experience to my major and interests would be my position as an Undergraduate Learning Assistant for Introduction to Psychology. I currently hold this position and have various responsibilities. I work with students to compliment the course content discussed in the lecture though guiding recitation sections, promote positive study habits, answering students questions, ensuring the class runs smoothly, and most importantly assisting students with excelling in this course.

Did you/are you going to study abroad? If so, describe the experience. 
I have not and am not planning on doing so.

What are you involved in on campus?
Besides my research, Learning Assistant position, and academics I currently am involved as a Resident Assistant and President of the Psychology of Gender Student Organization.

What are your plans after graduation?
I am currently applying to Clinical Psychology Ph.D. programs to start in the Fall of 2020. After obtaining my Ph.D. I hope to secure a faculty position at a university where I can conduct research on LGBTQA+ individuals and how support from various groups can benefit or harm them.