April 8, 2014

Deschenes ’14 Awarded Scholarship to Graduate Program in Ireland

Dooley, Deschenes '14 and Fitzgerald at UCD in 2013

In the summer of 2013, psychology major Spencer Deschenes '14 was awarded an Emmanuel College Travel Fellowship to study at Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin (UCD). A year later, she'll soon be on her way back, as the recipient of a 2014-2015 Global Excellence Graduate Scholarship for the Masters in Psychological Science program at UCD.

During her time at UCD last summer, Deschenes worked with Dr. Barbara Dooley and Dr. Amanda Fitzgerald on the My World Survey, a national survey on the mental health of youth in Ireland. With 14,306 young people surveyed, 14 research assistants and 21 volunteers, it is the largest study to date in Ireland investigating the mental health of adolescents and young adults.

UCD senior lecturer and former head of school Dr. Eilis Hennessey was so impressed with Deschenes, she contacted her and asked if she'd be interested in pursuing graduating study at UCD. When Deschenes agreed, Hennessey recommended her to Professor Alan Carr, Head of the School of Psychology, who then nominated her for the prestigious and competitive award.

The scholarship offers full tuition to the one-year program, as well as a stipend of €10,000 (nearly $14,000). Each year, only five awards are available to the entire graduate body of nearly 10,000 students, while only 20 applicants are accepted to the Masters in Psychological Science program.

The Middleton, Mass.-native came to Emmanuel in 2011, specifically for the College's concentration in counseling + health psychology. She has since taken a full course load each semester, including summer courses, which is enabling her to graduate in just three years.

Since the summer of 2012, Deschenes has been a research assistant in the lab of Assistant Professor of Psychology Jacqueline Alfonso Barry. Her work in the lab has focused on studying factors related to substance abuse and young adulthood. With Alfonso Barry, she co-wrote the article, "Do Drinking Games Matter? An Examination by Game Type and Gender in a Mandated Student Sample," which was published in the January 14, 2013, issue of The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.

Her time in the lab, along with her research in Ireland, has informed her senior project for Distinction in the Field, "A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Alcohol Use/Non-Use in Two Liberal Arts Colleges: From Dublin to Boston," which she will present on Thursday, April 24th.

"Never did I ever think that this would be my college experience," said Deschenes. "I thought I would just come here and focus on my classes. I wasn't planning on getting involved in anything.

"Part of the reason I've done so well at Emmanuel is that students and professors get to work together so closely. Without them, I would have never known all of the opportunities that were available to me."

In addition to her on-campus activities as an executive board member for the Psychology Club, a work-study shift leader in the Cardinal Cushing Library and an Academic Resource Center note taker for students with learning or physical disabilities, the honors student has also taken advantage of the College's many opportunities for global travel. During the spring 2013 semester, Deschenes was enrolled in the Emmanuel travel course, "Religion, Gender and AIDS in Southern Africa," which took her to South Africa and Swaziland for two weeks last May. She also traveled to Paris in January 2014 for the faculty-led travel course, "Darkness in the City of Light: Contrasting Views of Paris in Modern French Literature and Cinema."

"Now, when people ask my favorite hobby, I say, 'traveling,'" Deschenes said.