#ElonGrad 2022 spotlight: Lauren Willingham, psychology

In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2022 from a wide array of disciplines.

headshot of Lauren WillinghamPsychology major Lauren Willingham ’22 spent her undergraduate years deeply engaged in research around educational psychology and service-learning.

That work led to four papers accepted for publication by peer-reviewed journals, including one for which she was the lead researcher. “This accomplishment really opened my eyes to how far I have come in my ability to successfully conduct research,” Willingham said.

In addition to psychology, she earned a minor in human service studies.

Willingham is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, Psi Chi international honor society in psychology and Tau Upsilon Alpha national honor society for human services. She was a recipient of Elon’s Presidential Scholarship, and was awarded the Katharine duPont Weymouth Scholarship for outstanding achievements in the social sciences.

She was also a member of the Women’s Track and Field Team.

In fall 2021, she was a teaching and learning assistant for Professor of Psychology Alexa Darby’s Educational Psychology course.

“This amazing undergraduate opportunity allowed me to expand my teaching and leadership skills by preparing and leading class lectures, discussions and activities,” Willingham said.

Tell us about your extensive undergraduate research experiences.

I have been conducting undergraduate research over the past four years in the area of educational psychology and service-learning. Along with my mentor, Dr. Darby, I have conducted a total of five research projects of which four have been accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals. The topics of these projects ranged from examining faculty and community partners’ perspectives on co-education, reciprocity, teachable moments and motivation within service-learning collaborations.

I spent the past two summers furthering my research through Elon’s Summer Undergraduate Research Experience and have presented twice at the Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement Conference.

How did Dr. Darby support you in your growth?

Dr. Darby has provided me with the opportunity to build confidence and further my skills as a student, researcher and leader. She has guided me throughout my four years by providing me with support to achieve my academic and career goals.

What are your plans after graduation?

Following graduation I will continue conducting research within the area of psychology and mental health and eventually return to school to pursue a Ph.D in clinical psychology.

What’s been the most valuable part of your college experience?

Reflecting on my undergraduate years, I have really valued the connections I have made with all of my professors, classmates, and friends. Their support has helped me to grow as both a student and individual and aided me in successfully balancing my athletic commitments with my academic achievements.

What advice would you give future Elon students?

Reach out and connect with your professors as much as you can. I have found that Elon professors are passionate about their students’ educational experience and they will go out of their way to provide you with support. Even if you are unsure of the path you want to take, they will provide you with valuable insight and guidance throughout your time at Elon.