Aspiring Social Psychologist Heads to Scotland

SJU student Caitlin Rothwell awarded Mutch Scholarship of the St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia

Thursday, May 12, 2011

From the days of her unique preschool education at One-ness Family School, which focused on teaching its young students about the world’s many cultures, Caitlin Rothwell has sought to form connections with others. This calling has motivated her collegiate path, and her future goals: Rothwell is a psychology major and Italian minor, and plans to one day become a counselor.

“People may look or seem different from you,” Rothwell says, “but you discover there are always underlying similarities.”Rothwell’s interest in exploring different cultures has taken her to Peru, Ireland and Rome, and each new journey has further fueled her inclination for travel and her desire to foster understanding.

When Peter Norberg, Ph.D., associate professor of English and director of the Fellowships Office, called Rothwell into his office to tell her about the scholarship competition, she was ecstatic. The scholarship offers undergraduates from the Greater Philadelphia area the chance to participate in a year-long course of study at one of four prestigious universities in Scotland.

“It really struck me because it would be a whole year,” Rothwell says. “I would truly get to live in and experience a place, without being just an elongated tourist.” After an arduous application and interview process, Rothwell was the first student awarded the scholarship. She had her pick of schools and elected to study at the University of St. Andrew’s.

“St. Andrew’s has a very strong social psychology school,” she says. “They are conducting fascinating research on community identity and formation, a topic I am very interested in.”

Through an independent study and as a Summer Scholar, Rothwell spent time with Sally Kuykendall, Ph.D., assistant professor of health services, investigating the nature of bullying and bullying prevention at the collegiate level. “This kind of social psychology is the best of both worlds,” she says. “There is the sociological element, which contains things that aren’t always easy to study, but math and science are involved, too. It is still empirical.”

Through the ALMAS community, a part of the Faith-Justice Institute, Rothwell has also spent many hours volunteering at the Covenant House of Philadelphia, a shelter for homeless, runaway and trafficked youth. She hopes to find some service opportunities in Scotland to offset her academics, and plans to completely immerse herself in the local culture and community. “I am excited to expand my knowledge abroad,” she says.

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