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Honors, Debates, and a Future in Counseling: Sydnee Widmann ’24 (Psychology) Pursues Passions at UIndy

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Congratulations to the University of Indianapolis Class of 2024! We asked our newest alumni to share their UIndy experience and their post-graduation plans. Meet Sydnee Widmann, who recently received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology with distinction from the Ron and Laura Strain Honors College and a minor in legal studies!

Why did you choose to major in psychology?

Human cognition has always intrigued me, mainly regarding how we think and operate daily. Upon entering university, I was set on pursuing law school. However, I opted for something more versatile as a fallback option when choosing a major. Psychology stood out because understanding the human psyche is essential, regardless of the career path one follows.

Why did you choose to study at UIndy?

Several compelling factors led me to choose this university. Firstly, its proximity to my home offered the perfect balance between campus life and the comforts of home, allowing me to commute and stay connected with family when needed.

Additionally, UIndy’s commitment to fostering a strong sense of community resonated with me. Coming from a smaller town, I sought that same feeling of belonging and connection in my college experience, particularly appreciating the small class sizes that facilitate meaningful peer interactions.

Lastly, the opportunity for personalized attention from professors was a major draw. Such individualized support can significantly enhance the learning journey, providing a more enriching and fulfilling academic experience.

Were you a part of any extracurriculars (RSOs, societies, student leadership, teams, volunteerism, etc.) on or off campus? If so, what were they and what was your role?

During my final two years at UIndy, I joined the Speech and Debate Team. Starting as a novice member in my first year, I gradually transitioned to a leadership role, serving as the team’s President in my last year. In this capacity, I assisted with event planning and supported fellow members. This experience improved my public speaking skills and allowed me to form strong connections within the team. Additionally, I’m a member of Psi Chi, the psychology honors society.

Are there any faculty or staff members who have significantly impacted your time at UIndy? If so, who are they and how did they influence you?

Two faculty members at UIndy have significantly impacted my experience. Firstly, I want to express my gratitude to Dr. Candice Burkett, my honors project adviser. She’s been incredibly supportive throughout my honors work, helping me with my studies and even guiding me through personal matters and the grad school process. I truly appreciate all the time and effort she’s dedicated to my success.

The other faculty member I want to thank is Dr. Stephanie Wideman, the Speech and Debate Team director. I initially joined the team because of her inspiring encouragement in Speech 101. Dr. Wideman has been a great mentor, not only helping me improve my speaking and leadership skills but also instilling in me a sense of inspiration and motivation. I’m thankful for the opportunities she’s given me during my time here, and I deeply respect her as a role model.

Did you receive any honors or awards during your time at UIndy?

During my time at the University, I’ve had the privilege of receiving several awards and honors. As a UIndy Speech and Debate team member, I’ve had the opportunity to compete at various levels, including state, national, and international competitions. In my first year on the team, I achieved 6th place in persuasive speaking at both state and national levels and 4th place in prose speaking at the state level. During the 2023-24 season on the team, I competed internationally in Dublin, Ireland, and secured 3rd place in visual communication analysis. Additionally, I’ve been recognized for my academic achievements by consistently making the Dean’s List and being inducted into Psi Chi, the psychology honors association.

How have UIndy’s resources helped you to succeed and pursue new opportunities?

During my time as a Greyhound, I’ve relied on the Stephen F. Fry Professional Edge Center each year to navigate my career path. I’m incredibly grateful for the support and guidance provided by Brittany Dyer, who has been there for me since day one. Originally on the pre-law track, Brittany helped me secure a job in the legal field between summers. However, as my interests shifted towards psychology, particularly forensic psychology, during my senior year, she remained by my side, assisting me through the application process for graduate school. I’m thankful for her assistance, which played a significant role in my decision to continue my journey as a Greyhound.

During your time at UIndy, did you have the opportunity to complete an internship or earn part-/full-time employment with an organization in your field? If so, what was it and how did it help you professionally?

During the summer between my junior and senior years, I took on a full-time role as a legal assistant. This opportunity allowed me to gain practical experience in law, assisting lawyers with tasks such as filing and sending out court cases. It was a valuable learning experience that provided insight into the legal profession and helped me develop practical skills.

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I’ve decided to continue my journey as a Greyhound. I’ve been accepted into the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling program, and I’m thrilled to share that I’ll also be serving as a graduate assistant!

How did your degree program prepare you for your next steps?

The psychology degree program equipped me with the necessary skills and knowledge for my future endeavors. The Department of Psychology at UIndy provided a supportive environment with dedicated professors who helped me grow academically and professionally. Their guidance and the opportunities for research and extracurricular activities solidified my decision to continue my education at the school.

What are some of your favorite memories from your time at UIndy?

One standout memory from my time at UIndy was the spring break trip to Dublin, Ireland, with the Speech and Debate Team. It was an eye-opening experience, where I not only competed internationally but also got to explore the history and beauty of Ireland.

Another highlight has been the friendship with my freshman-year roommate. What started as a chance pairing turned into a close bond that I treasure. I’m grateful for the memories and support we’ve shared throughout college. Having a random roommate was a pleasant surprise, and I’m glad our friendship flourished.

What advice would you give to incoming students?

To incoming students, I’d suggest getting involved. College flies by, so take advantage of the clubs and activities run by students. These experiences aren’t just fun; they’re chances to form lasting friendships. Trying new things will enhance your college journey, so don’t be afraid to jump in and get involved.