Mandy Larsen at her internship with the Humanitarian Service Project

Alumni Spotlight

Mandy Larsen '13

Mandy Larsen is currently working toward a master's degree in couple and family therapy at the Adler School of Professional Psychology.

While pursuing her graduate degree, she completed a community service practicum at the Humanitarian Service Project (HSP). Larsen interviewed the seniors served by the Senior Citizen Project and wrote an official "Senior Update" to update HSP's understanding of the needs of each senior, and to better learn how the services impacted their lives.

This fall, she will start her clinical practicum as a therapist intern for Salvation Army's Family and Community Services.

During her time at IWU, Larsen completed  her senior thesis and defended it with research honors. She was the Head Research Assistant and led a group of research assistants as they collected EEG data for a study on the neuromechanisms of social exclusion. She worked as a teaching assistant and worked with Dr. Linda Kunce on research with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She also interned at Chestnut Health Systems and was later hired by Chestnut.


Erin Vogel, Class of 2012


Erin is currently a fifth-year doctoral student in social psychology at the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio and is expecting to graduate this spring. Her research focuses on how people compare themselves to others, particularly in applied contexts such as social media and health. In graduate school, she has published work in several peer-reviewed journals, presented at conferences, and has won research awards.

Throughout graduate school, Erin has also done a lot of teaching and mentoring. She has been a teaching assistant for several courses and taught a few of her own as well, enjoying the opportunity to work with undergraduate research assistants and honor students. She enjoys the opportunity to pay the guidance she was given at IWU forward to her students. Erin has also served as a graduate student representative in her department for two years, and has represented graduate students on several committees (e.g., search committee, university-wide health insurance committee).

Erine first became interested in experimental psychology here at Illinois Wesleyan University when she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Pretz's lab running participants through computer-based tasks. She also worked as a research assistant in Dr. Themanson's lab helping facilitate EEG sessions. Her senior year, she completed an honors thesis in social psychology with Dr. Vicary as her advisor.

Erin is currently applying for assistant professor positions at universities around the country for next fall.


Yuliana Zaikman

Yuliana Zaikman, Class of 2012

Psychology major, Russian Literature and Language minor.

During my Junior year I got involved with research as a lab assistant in the Neuroscience Lab for one of the seniors' research projects. Throughout my Senior year I worked on my own honors research project with Dr. Mandy Vicary on the topics of Life History Theory and the Sexual Double Standard. I also worked on another project with Dr. Vicary to explore the CSI Effect. Additionally, I was the vice president of Psi Chi for the 2011-2012 year.

Outside of the Psychology department, I worked as a lab TA for the Human Biology course for two years and I also worked as an RA during my junior year and an RCA during my senior year.

I will be pursuing a PhD in Social Psychology at New Mexico State University.

[Yuliana won the Senior Award in 2012]

Claire Karlen

Claire Karlen, Class of 2011

(currently, Psychology PhD student at Illinois State University, specialization in autism)

As a psychology major at Illinois Wesleyan, I defended my honors research thesis that I worked on under the advisement of Dr. Jennifer Daniels.  My thesis explored how being excluded online affects an individual's ability to socially monitor and how social anxiety impacts that ability. I was also a teaching assistant for two psychology classes: Social Psychology and Psychology of Gender.  Additionally, I served as the secretary of our chapter of Psi Chi. Outside of the psychology department, I was a volunteer art teacher at a local elementary school and sang in the University Choir.

I spent the summer of my junior year working as an aide in a residential treatment center for children with autism, which led me to my post-graduate plans.

[Claire won the Senior Award in 2011]

  Anna Genchanok

Anna Genchanok, Class of 2011

Psychology and English double major

I was involved in many activities as a psychology and English double major while studying at Illinois Wesleyan University. I started off as a research assistant in neuroscience before moving on to complete my honors research thesis with Dr. Linda Kunce, studying autism in adults. I served as the service chair in Psi Chi and as a research methods teaching assistant. The majority of my psychology based learning came from holding internships and jobs in various organizations throughout the community. I was involved in crisis work, suicide intervention, domestic violence, and homeless outreach. Outside of psychology, I competed in and taught Taekwondo, and held training seminars on women's self-defense.

After I completed my undergraduate degree, I took a year off to work at Hartgrove Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Chicago. As a Mental Health Specialist on the Pediatric Unit, I conducted group therapy and counseling sessions with kids ages 4-12, and was in charge of monitoring behavioral changes as a result of various implemented treatments. Working with a minority inner-city population has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I would highly recommend it to any student wanting to study and understand clinical and cultural issues in treatment of mental health. In the fall, I will be attending school to earn my PhD in Child Clinical Psychology, studying the impact of parenting on a child's development of risk and resilience to behavioral conduct disorders.

[Anna won the Psi Chi Award in 2011]

 Alyssa Schardt

Alyssa Schardt, Class of 2012

During my junior year at Illinois Wesleyan University I was quite active in the psychology department.  I was a teacher's assistant for both statistics and human biology in the fall, and became the head statistics TA for the spring semester.  During my spring semester I interned at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, which was a life changing experience.  I absolutely loved leading groups and working with patients towards their recovery, and cannot wait to begin again in the fall as a case manager.  I also enjoyed working as a research assistant to Professor Nebel-Schwalm, as well as assisting senior, Hannah Jones, with her thesis.  I served on the executive board for the honors psychology society, Psi Chi, and was honored to be elected president for the 2011-2012 school year.  I am anticipating a year full of service activities and fund raisers with Psi Chi.  I am looking forward to working on my thesis with Dr. Themanson next year.  I plan to study the effects of exercise and body image, which is a topic I am very interested in and hope to continue once I enter graduate school.  Outside of the Psychology department, I play the violin in the Illinois Wesleyan Civic Orchestra, as well as teach private violin lessons.

[Alyssa won the Jim Dougan Junior Award in 2011 and the Senior Psi Chi Award in 2012]

Peter Rosen

Peter Rosen, Class of 2010

Psychology and Art double major

While at Illinois Wesleyan University I was involved in many activities both in and out of the psychology department. I became involved in psychology research as a freshman while helping other students complete their thesis work. I was also a teaching assistant for the Behavioral Conditioning Lab, as well as the research assistant for the EEG Lab on campus.  I completed my honors research thesis with Dr. Jason Themanson working with event-related brain potentials. Outside of psychology I was an art student, and a coach for a youth soccer league in the community. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in the Experimental Psychology program at Washington State University to work on a collaboration between the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab and the Sleep and Performance Research Center. In addition to school, I work as a teaching/research assistant on campus.

[Peter won the Senior Award in 2010]

Ashley Czworniak

Ashley N. Czworniak, Class of 2011

Psychology and Biology double major

As a junior, I was fortunate enough to begin research with Dr. Williams exploring the effectiveness of pulsed radio frequency in the treatment of pain, which I found fascinating. Outside of the Psychology department, I am involved in Global Medical Brigades, as well as International Justice Mission which works to end sex trafficking in foreign countries. Additionally, I have been fortunate enough to work at Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago for about two years which has been an absolutely enlightening opportunity. After graduating from IWU in December, I began working at a residential facility for adults with developmental disorders as a part time caretaker/mentor. Each day working there has been more fulfilling than the one before. Fortunately, I am still volunteering at Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago, and was even able to co-author an abstract on patient outcomes. In my free time, I teach martial arts at the local park district. Aside from that, I am excited to apply to MD/MPH programs this summer.

[Ashley won the Jim Dougan Award in 2010]

Kerry Gremo

Kerry Gremo, Class of 2010

Psychology major, Spanish minor

I was a psychology major and Spanish minor at IWU. Within the department I participated as a teaching and research assistant for Dr. Sheese. During my sophomore year I completed an internship in the Intervention Strategies Team of the North DuPage Special Education Cooperative. I'm a member of Psi Chi, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance, and serve as Vice President of Kappa Delta Sorority. I'm currently in my 2nd year in the PhD program in school psychology at the University of Kansas. I work as a graduate research assistant at the Center for Educational Testing and Evaluation at KU working on developing alternate assessment measures in English-language arts for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

[Kerry won the Jim Dougan Award in 2010]

Melanie Essayens

Melanie Essayens, Class of 2009

I am currently in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Ph.D program at Central Michigan University. I'm doing my research on occupational stress and am helping a professor with a book on women leaders in the workplace from an evolutionary psychology standpoint. In addition to school I'm working as a general psychology teaching assistant and as a research consultant for CareerBuilder.

[Melanie won the Psi Chi Award in 2009]

Melinda Mallory

Melinda Mallory, Class of 2009

At Illinois Wesleyan University I was involved in many activities both in and out of the psychology department.  I was involved with psych research both as a research assistant my sophomore and junior years as well as doing my own thesis with Dr. Dougan my senior year.  I was a member of Psi Chi and was president of the organization my senior year. I also did an internship at BroMenn on the Mental Health Unit. Outside of psychology I played the oboe in the Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra.  I was a member of Colleges Against Cancer and the Philosophy Club and I worked as a tour guide at Admissions.  I am currently finishing some necessary prerequisite courses and applying to Nursing School.  I will hopefully be entering an accelerated program this May to receive a Bachelor's degree in Nursing.

[Melinda won the Senior Departmental Award in 2009]