billy kirk scholars_38Graduating senior Taylor Nicoletti, the Elizabeth Hossler Outstanding Psychology Student award winner, is packing up and moving to the Chicagoland area where she will enter Wheaton College’s Clinical Psychology doctoral program in fall. The application was long and the process took a lot of work, but Nicoletti felt it was worth the effort.

“It was a good time of reflection about what I’ve learned over the last four years. With Wheaton specifically, I had to write a lot about how I’d integrate faith and psychology, which was a good thing to think about, because those are things that are often left separated from each other,” Nicoletti says.

While her path to Wheaton was fairly traditional, getting to Bethel was a long process. She had planned on going to Liberty University in Virginia, but decided to suspend her enrollment for a semester to save up money. However, former Bethel Admissions Counselor Tom Carpenter ’07 had a strong sense that Nicoletti belonged at Bethel.

“On the morning of freshman orientation he [Carpenter] called me one more time and asked me to come [to Bethel].” Reluctantly, Nicoletti gave Bethel one more visit. Feeling a call to enroll, Nicoletti became a full-time student at Bethel. Admiration for the school soon followed. “By the time we were two weeks into school, I knew it wasn’t just where God was calling me, I actually loved Bethel.”

When she arrived on campus, Nicoletti joined the psychology department with the intent to go into counseling.

“I thought psychologists only did therapy, which I now know is not true at all.” Nicoletti is looking into the research side of the profession, and is particularly interested in studying issues surrounding mental health care systems.

“Research, good research, carries a lot of weight in mental health care systems,” Nicoletti says. “I wrote a 30-page paper on white privilege my junior year for my Research Methods class. I slowly realized that people in low income urban communities don’t usually seek out mental health services, and if they do, they don’t receive as good of care as people from upper middle class families do.”

Given that Nicoletti hopes to focus her research on diverse populations, Wheaton’s emphasis on diversity was a big part of why she chose to further her education at the college.

“They recognize the richness of culture and what that brings to the table,” Nicoletti says, noting that social justice and diversity are a natural outcome of being a Christian. “It’s [implementing social justice] a mandate for someone who believes in a savior who offers redemption to everyone, and I need to be an active member in pursuing that.”

Though she is moving on to grad school, she highlighted Bethel’s role in preparing her for her next steps.

“The psychology department [at Bethel] challenged me academically and spiritually. It helped me recognize the importance of people, which, in mental health, is everything.”

Taylor Nicoletti will graduate Saturday, April 30, with the rest of the class of 2016 before departing for Wheaton.

To find out more about Bethel’s Psychology Department here.