by TaLeiza Calloway
Alex Lenzen rose above the rest in a field she has always had an interest in–psychology.
The 22-year-old College of St. Benedict student is the recipient of the 2012 Donald G. Patterson Award, a top honor from the Minnesota Psychological Association. She was presented with a plaque April 21 and a $350 award at a banquet in the Twin Cities. The award is given to an outstanding college senior planning a career in psychology.
Lenzen, who grew up in St. Joseph, was selected from a statewide pool of candidates. All colleges and universities in Minnesota could nominate one student for the honor. She was nominated by her psychology professor, Lisa Platt. She was told not to expect victory due to the level of competition. There is only one recipient selected to represent the state. Lenzen said she is glad they were wrong about her slim chances of winning.
“It’s really cool,” Lenzen said. “I’ve been super lucky with the professors I’ve gotten to work with. It’s cool to see the recognition from that.”
Criteria for the award include a grade-point-average requirement, involvement in extracurricular activities and submission of a research project. Her senior research project was a year-long project that focused on gender discrimination. The title of her senior honors thesis is entitled “Is Ignorance Really Bliss?: The Recognition of Gender Microagressions and Its Relationships to Gender, Self-esteem and Ambivalent Sexism.”
She surveyed 175 students to determine when a person can recognize subtle discrimination and how that recognition relates to their self-esteem.
What Lenzen says she likes most about psychology is the various aspects of the field that can help others. She has a strong interest in helping oppressed individuals and using research to educate and advocate on behalf of those individuals.
As a student, she has also had the opportunity to teach intro to psychology lab courses at CSB. She can envision herself as a professor, opening a private practice or even going into therapy. Psychology embodies all of these areas—a fact that attracted her.
“I have always wanted to help people and focus on multicultural issues. I’ve really enjoyed educating people,” she said. “It allows me to do different things and fulfill a lot of those ambitions.”
Lenzen will graduate May 12 from CSB with a degree in psychology and a minor in communications. She is preparing to attend graduate school at the University of Florida in Gainesville where she will pursue a doctorate degree in counseling.
She was also awarded a graduate fellowship that will pay her tuition and pay her a stipend to teach.