Early Course Ignited Passion for Research psychology
Lauren Breithaupt always saw herself affecting the world around her in a positive way. "I thought I wanted to major in journalism and write for Time magazine," she said.
Breithaupt's idea of how she could achieve this positive impact changed after she took her first research methods course with psychology professor Marc Carter. After taking more psychology courses, her desire to pursue psychology was ignited. "Breithaupt is a wonderful student; she's conscientious, works very hard and is very quick to learn. From the first class she was interested in doing research, which is fairly rare," said Carter. "She has worked incredibly hard to find opportunities for doing that research."
Hard work and the drive to find opportunities that positioned Breithaupt for success paid off. During her first position as a research assistant, which was at the University of Kansas Medical Center, she fell in love with research.
Love of Research Led to International Opportunity
Next was the first American selected for an honorary research program position at Huntercombe Hospital at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. While in Scotland, Breithaupt grew as a student while working toward a cause she wanted to see positive change in. She led a research project assessing the complexity of eating disorders and then presented those findings at the National Conference for Child and Adolescent Psychology. Breithaupt was the only undergraduate lead researcher selected to present at the conference.
During the program in Scotland, Breithaupt achieved her dream of conducting research to improve the lives of children with severe eating disorders. She worked with renowned researchers from all over the world toward the goal of improving the quality and efficiency of treating eating disorders.
Also while at Huntercombe, Breithaupt conducted group therapy sessions with patients. "The patients became the motivating force for my research," she said. "Through working with the patients, I began to realize that the skill sets I had developed through my coursework at Baker held the potential to serve a larger purpose, one that could make an everlasting impression on a large group of people through research."
Although Breithaupt was in another country, her Baker education never stopped and she stayed in communication with Baker University professors and staff members who provided a constant support system that helped her grow as a student and as a researcher.
After her experience at Huntercombe, Breithaupt was one of 12 recipients of a summer research fellowship with the American Psychological Association. More than 450 students applied for the positions. During this six-week summer program, Breithaupt applied her skills in research design and methodology, theory and practice. She gained firsthand lab experience studying in her field of interest while also making connections with other students from around the nation.
Next Step Is Doctoral Studies
"She simply excels at everything she goes after, so we are very proud. I only wish we could take more credit," Carter said. "It really has been her smarts, drive and ambition that have done it."
Breithaupt has credited her confidence and success at national and international levels to her real-life experiences and the education she received from Baker University. Breithaupt will continue her education and work toward a Ph.D. at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, after graduation this spring.
"The connections I established at Baker are connections you cannot find at every university, because the staff, students and professors at Baker are truly one of a kind," she said.