Psychology 'has a little bit of everything' for alumnus
After encountering the subject of psychology for the first time in an introductory college course, Blake Erickson immediately felt attracted to it.
Erickson graduated from Henderson State University in 2009 with a degree in psychology and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
“I have diverse interests, and psychology has a bit of everything that interests me, from biology to anthropology and philosophy,” Erickson said. “I even found a way to like math because the statistics courses required for research actually let you use advanced mathematics for a purpose.
“This was an intellectual sphere I wanted to inhabit, so I chose the major.”
Erickson transferred from National Park Community College to Henderson in 2007. As a Reddie, he was a member of the Honors College and volunteered for several campus activities. Erickson also served in the Psychology Club and Psi Chi.
He chose Henderson because of its proximity to his home in Hot Springs.
“I had a pretty fun job in radio doing the weeknight shift at KLAZ 105.9 and wanted to stay nearby,” Erickson said. “I knew people going to Henderson and others who had gone through the counseling program, and they spoke highly of it. So the choice was pretty clear.”
Erickson said he remained in academia to perform research.
“The best prep for that was the Capstone Experience,” he said. “Dr. Aneeq Ahmad was my advisor and guided me through a rather complex project that required funding from the HSU Student Research grant. I also presented at the Arkansas Undergraduate Research Conference and the Southwestern Psychological Association conference.
“All of these activities are a regular part of my life now. Various other research presentation projects, particularly in Cross-Cultural Psychology, were also great experiences.”
After graduating from Henderson, Erickson took a year off and worked at the Arkadelphia radio station while applying to graduate programs. He attended the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he performed research on eyewitness memory. He received his Ph.D. this summer.
“I worked in Dr. Moshe Naveh-Benjamin’s Memory and Cognitive Aging Lab researching age-related changes to memory and conducting some of my own projects on age-related effects in eyewitness memory,” Erickson said.
Recalling his studies at Henderson State, Erickson said it was the university’s intimate focus on students that impressed him most.
“There were many nontraditional, commuter, and first-generation students like myself who were given so many opportunities and attention,” he said. “A larger institution, despite its size and endowment, would have less time to devote to the individual.
“Regardless of what kind of student you are, take advantage of whatever opportunities the department provides you to excel. It’ll be a lot of hard work, but you won’t regret it, no matter what your plans are.”
For more information about Henderson State’s psychology program, go to hsu.edu/psychology.