Psychology Student Seizes the Moment

Tuesday, November 19, 2019
Allison Dunne

Allison Dunne has taken full advantage of the opportunities that have come her way since she started studying psychology at Viterbo University.

“I never thought I would be leading the psychology club or starting the Psi Chi honors club, because at bigger schools I never would have had that opportunity,” she said. “I would have been just another name and I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to break out and learn the leadership skills that I have, and that’s been really beneficial to me.”

Dunne grew up near Holmen and in addition to her psychology major, is minoring in neuroscience. Now in her senior year, she hopes to become a university professor and is already applying to Ph.D. programs.

She remembers visiting several bigger schools when she was considering which university to go to, but once she visited Viterbo, she knew it was the right fit.

“I thought this is where I want to be,” Dunne recalled. “It just feels very inclusive, and like everybody knows everybody, and that’s really nice.”

The opportunity to participate and work closely with faculty was also something Dunne noticed about Viterbo right from the start.

“I really loved the small class sizes and the opportunity to work one-on-one with the professors was really appealing to me,” she said.

Dunne became particularly fascinated by social psychology, and got hooked on the research side of her major. She’s been involved in research projects on campus for the last two years, beginning with her successful application to Viterbo’s summer undergraduate research fellowship.

“I received a stipend that covered my research over the summer and it all culminated in a presentation at the Seven Rivers Undergraduate Research Symposium,” Dunne said.

Presenting her work to other students and faculty was another opportunity that Dunne seized and provided her with invaluable experience that helped shape her post-graduation plans.

“I did research all summer with my research advisor and it was really cool to be able to have that experience,” she said. “It’s very collaborative so I was working with people who were doing research on philosophy and English and being able to take all those perspectives and add those to my own research was really fun.”

Dunne’s research has focused on what motivates people to act in certain ways, in particular those who display perfectionist behaviors. Concentrating on research, and working toward a Ph.D., was not initially the path Dunne envisioned she would take when she started her psychology major. She credits her professors and advisors with helping her to discover her passion for research grounded in social psychology.

“I came in thinking I wanted to work with clients one-on-one, no matter the setting, and I realized that for me that’s not the connection that I need,” she said.

Dunne highlighted using the psychology department’s digital interview labs as another experience she’s benefited from at Viterbo. Students watch recordings of their interviews back with professors to review them and hone their interviewing skills. Although Dunne sees her future more on the research side of psychology, she said practicing in the lab has helped her perform better in job interviews and allowed her to study how she interacts with people.

“I’ve had so much fun doing interviews in the labs and that’s an experience nobody else gets,” she said. “I’ve talked to graduate advisors and other graduate students who were amazed I was able to get that kind of experience as an undergrad.”

As she prepares to move on to her next adventure, Dunne urged new Viterbo students to take advantage of all the opportunities the university offers.

“I’ve had so many experiences here that I’ve loved,” she said. “What I’ve gotten out of my time at Viterbo has been so worth it.”