WASHINGTON, PA (January 10, 2022)—W&J psychology students have change on their minds. Or rather, they’re using the mind to create change.
As a final project for the 2021 fall semester, students in Psychology of Public Policy (PSY 393) gathered psychological research on various policy issues and lobbied the staff at Congressman Guy Reschenthaler’s (R-PA, D-14) District Office to support their positions and convince the congressman to co-sponsor related legislation.
The students lobbied on a host of issues, including prescription drug prices, climate change, sexual education in Pennsylvania, voting rights for ex-convicts, and support for families with incarcerated parents or victims of human trafficking.
“It was a really eye-opening experience,” said Kimber Randolph, a senior psychology major who lobbied for changes to vaccine mandates based on research from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and Congressional Research Services (CRS) which indicated that unvaccinated veterans face additional mental health challenges. “I…would have never stepped foot in a Congressman’s office to talk about something I cared about [if not] for a class…like [PSY 393].”
Dr. Kevin Carriere, an assistant professor of psychology who previously served as a policy advisor to former U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (now the Secretary of the Interior), said that’s part of why he chose this as this students’ final assignment.
“This project helps inspire active participation,” he said. “And really, that’s leadership. We want our leaders to be more than just brilliant and book smart. A student who is going out and actively pushing for something, and doing that in a way that is informed, is leading ethically and is going to stand out.”
His students agree.
“I think W&J and Dr. Carriere create a culture that allows for people to…better themselves,” said Logan Scheider, a sophomore psychology major who, like Randolph, intends to pursue graduate school after finishing at W&J. “This class taught a lot about being persistent and maintaining a level of respect for those you debate or argue with…, [and] I’ve learned countless skills that will help me excel further in my future endeavors.”
Scheider’s final project focused on facial recognition technology, is discriminatory and poses privacy issues. Both he and Randolph said they are proud of their work with Reschenthaler’s staff and hope that they’ve made a difference.
“I don’t know if we have changed anyone’s minds. I hope we have,” Carriere said. “But we are excited to wait and see if the Congressman makes any moves on certain issues.”
About Washington & Jefferson College
Washington & Jefferson College, proudly located in Washington, Pa., is a historic liberal arts college founded in 1781 that values ethical leadership, professional readiness, and inclusive communities. Our highly customized and intellectually engaging student experience develops professionals of uncommon integrity to lead in an ever-changing world. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu or call 888-W-AND-J.