Name: Caroline Weppner

Field of Study: Psychological Science

Status: Master's student  

Graduation Year: 2021

Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Why did you choose Catholic University? I was first drawn to Catholic by the possibility of working in the Mindfulness and Sport lab with Dr. Carol Glass. Her lab encompassed all the aspects of psychology that interested me, and I knew I could gain invaluable experience working with her and the other graduate research assistants. I was also intrigued by the opportunity to coach the Catholic Men's and Women's tennis teams as a graduate assistant under the incredible guidance of Dana Dowd and Nitin Deodhar. After my experience as a former Division I collegiate tennis player, I am blessed to have an opportunity to encourage, excite, and inspire the student-athletes on our teams. On my first visit to Catholic while meeting with Dr. Brendan Rich, I immediately fell in love with the campus and the atmosphere of the school. It was a gut feeling, knowing that I had found a place that would nurture my growing passion for mental health, enhance my relationships, and foster in me a greater appreciation for the connection between education and spiritual wellbeing.

"I immediately fell in love with the campus and the atmosphere of the school.'
– Caroline Weppner

Favorite course: While I have loved every class I have taken thus far, my favorite is Cognitive Development, taught by Dr. Kate Degnan. While this past semester was cut short, I was still able to apply my newfound knowledge in cognitive development to the sports sphere in our final term paper. My paper discussed the moderating effects of cognitive flexibility on the relationship between motor skills and athletic performance in adolescent athletes. Dr. Degnan made the class incredibly interesting, and I find the information I learned in that class has been the most translatable to real-world experiences.

What are your goals? After graduating with my Master's in Psychological Science from CUA next summer, I plan to continue my education with a Ph.D. in clinical or counseling psychology. My ultimate goal for the future is to work with college and professional athletes, as well as members of the military, to pinpoint the psychological predictors of peak performance that enable success in both their everyday lives and certain high-stress situations. I also hope to increase the utilization of mindfulness interventions throughout the athletic and military communities in order to enhance coping and resiliency before, during, and after a major championship or a potential deployment.

Is there a faculty or staff member who has made a significant impact on you? I am fortunate to have worked with numerous amazing faculty and staff members at Catholic, both in an athletic and educational capacity. Dana Dowd and Nitin Deodhar have been excellent mentors and have taught me valuable lessons about coaching student-athletes. They have given me opportunities to prove myself as a thought leader in the athletic sphere, and I am forever grateful. In academics, I actually have a unique advising experience. My documented advisor is Dr. Brendan Rich. He has always been readily available to answer my (numerous!) questions regarding my present and future psychological opportunities. In addition, I also have been working closely with Emeritus Professor, Dr. Carol Glass. Because of her incredible guidance, the field of psychology has completely opened up to me. I have learned so much about how to create a collaborative environment, how to be a supportive colleague, and how to have confidence in my own abilities through her lab. I am forever grateful to all of these integral people who have played a role in my experience at CUA.

What makes Catholic University unique? Catholic University is unique due to the people who comprise the staff, faculty, and student body. Washington, D.C. can be a place of quick, interrupted, and often impersonal interactions, but the culture at Catholic offers such a different experience. Everyone I have worked with has been supportive, inclusive, and extremely uplifting. In addition, the faculty and staff at CUA understand the importance of a holistic education, one that not only focuses on the academic achievements of their students, but their service to community, relationships with peers, and their lasting impact on the world.

Awards/recognition: I recently received the honor of "Best Master's Poster" in response to my poster submission to CUA Research Day. The poster was titled "Coach-Athlete Relationships and Basic Psychological Needs Satisfaction in Sport: What Role Does Personality Play?" The poster demonstrated the incredible need for a positive coach-athlete relationship for satisfying student-athletes psychological needs in sport, which include competence, autonomy, and relatedness. In addition, a student-athlete's personality, specifically conscientiousness and agreeableness, can greatly affect the above relationship.

Proudest accomplishment: The accomplishment that gives me the most pride from my time here at CUA is not athletic or academic. I am actually proud of the confidence I have built since starting my program. The supportiveness that has been exhibited by my classmates, my professors, and the coaches I work with has led me to have a greater confidence in my abilities as a coach, a researcher, a student, and a potential psychologist.

What Catholic University means to you: Even though academic success is such an important value at Catholic, serving the community is the quality that most exemplifies CUA to me. During MLK day of Service, I was stationed with the Women's tennis team at Little Sisters of the Poor. There we helped organize the objects sold at their marketplace, visited with residents, and learned about the incredible international congregation started by Saint Jeanne Jugan. It reminded me that there is a reason why we are all here, and our education, where we attend school, what jobs we hold, etc., are just mechanisms to help us achieve our greater goal of helping and supporting our communities.