Renee McCauley

Renee McCauley

Renee McCauley

What activities were you involved in during your time at Mason that impacted you?  

My involvement in research was single-handedly the most impactful part of my time at Mason. Research involvement helped me feel belonging at Mason and connection with Mason's mission and people, which was so helpful during the pandemic. My research experience also helped me find deeper meaning in my coursework. Before, I was diligent in coursework, but the contribution of each course to my development felt abstract because I was following a checklist to get a degree. Once I became involved in research, I was still contributing to my degree completion through the honors psychology courses and independent study credits, but I was also integrating the skills and tools from my courses. Involvement with research took some extra work, but it was surprisingly rewarding because was using and refining skills from various classes and learning about what I love. I never thought I'd like research because I didn't like science experiments in high school, and I figured research was pretty much the same thing. The trick to enjoying research is to find the questions and subjects that excite you. I can appreciate chemistry and biology and pass the classes, but they don't excite me. Psychology excites me, and certain questions in psychology excite me enough to research them. Find what excites you.  

Did you have a favorite class or professor? 

It is truly difficult to narrow it down to just one! Professor Aziza Bayou's ANTH 114 really stands out, though. She did an excellent job of presenting material that really made me think about globalization and recognize others' perspectives on the same issue and challenged my preconceptions.   

What is your most memorable moment at Mason? 

Successfully defending my honors psychology thesis proposal was a significant moment for me. It was the moment when I finally thought, "I can do this! I have what it takes to be a researcher!"  It was impressive to look back and see how various skills had blossomed through the thesis writing process. My writing had changed and improved drastically, my ability to understand journal articles increased dramatically, and my reasoning was fuller and more nuanced. While a three semester long project is a large commitment, it has been worth it.  

What is your next step? What are your future plans?  

In Fall 2023, I will attend George Mason's I-O Psychology doctoral program. 

As you are reflecting on your time at Mason, what is one piece of advice you would give a student who is just starting off on their Mason journey? 

Explore. The world is bigger than you think it is. There are more careers than you think there are. You might have a good starting point for what you want to do, but chances are that you haven't found the exact thing that you really want to do. The thing you really want to do might be hiding behind some assumptions that on the surface seem very reasonable, but actually don't represent reality. So while you explore, try something that's just outside your comfort zone but still connected to something you love. For me, I knew I liked psychology and I was certain I wanted to be a clinical mental health counselor. I assumed that because I didn't like science experiments, research wasn't for me. I originally got involved in research so that I would be a competitive candidate for a clinical counseling program, and along the way, I found out that I'm really passionate about workplace psychology research. You never know, you may just find what you really love.