Major: Psychology Minor: Sociology
Campus and Community Involvement: Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP); publication in the Honors Student Association journal, The Medallion on "Hegemonic Masculinity."(May 2022); participation in psychology research (Plant Lab) on prejudice and moral licensing; Freshman Interest Group (FIG) Leader; Resident Assistant (RA) in Azalea Hall.
Graduation: Spring 2022
During her time at FSU, Meredith Ellis, recent honors graduate, explored the many avenues of undergraduate research and student leadership. She advises students to seize the many opportunities that are offered. "Since graduating, I have not regretted a single course, program, club, activity of opportunity that I tried; I only regret the things that I didn't [try]. College accounts for such a short period of your life, but it is your time to try everything that you can!"
Meredith completed her B.S. in Psychology, with a minor in Sociology, and plans to earn a doctorate in Social Psychology to uncover more about the effects of prejudice and discrimination. The Honors Program is incredibly proud of Meredith and wishes her great success in her future endeavors! Below is an e-interview with Meredith to learn more about her and her experiences at FSU.
"I credit the Honors Program with many of my early successes in college. The program exposed me to so many opportunities that I would not have felt comfortable exploring on my own. One of the greatest struggles that I have encountered throughout college was the feeling that, because of my identities, I did not belong in higher education. But through inclusive programing and diverse faculty and cohorts, I was able to push past that barrier to entry and take control of my own narrative." - Meredith Ellis
Tell me a bit about yourself.
"I have lived in Florida my whole life, but my family were refugees from Cuba who left in the 1960s. Their experiences, as well as their culture, has greatly influenced my interests academically and otherwise. Specifically, I love to volunteer with English as a Second Language (ESL) students in my mother’s kindergarten classroom. I have the opportunity to help students become familiarized with English. I love to be around people. Professionally, I chose an interest of science that revolves around people and our interconnectedness to one another; and informally, I choose to spend time with my family and friends and watch movies."
Tell me about your journey to FSU, your major, and how you selected it.
"My journey to FSU was encouraged by my family and their high regard for education. They understood education to be the only thing that you can always take with you, wherever you go in life: the greatest possession. I was drawn to my major, Psychology, because of my own inquisitive mind which has been experimenting with human behavior for as long as I could remember (often getting me into trouble). I always wondered why people do the things that they do and tried to understand what effects that [behavior] will have on others. It wasn’t until I joined FSU’s renowned psychology department that I learned how to focus that creativity into thinking critically and analyzing research."
Tell me about your experiences with the Honors Program.
"I credit the Honors Program with many of my early successes in college. The program exposed me to so many opportunities that I would not have felt comfortable exploring on my own. One of the greatest struggles that I have encountered throughout college was the feeling that, because of my identities, I did not belong in higher education. But through inclusive programing and diverse faculty and cohorts, I was able to push past that barrier to entry and take control of my own narrative. The Honors Colloquium was a great way to receive academic and personal advice from a successful upperclassman. My leader, Nina Sotolongo, was an incredible example of a minority woman in STEM. Throughout my time in the Honors Program, the highlight was certainly the faculty. Each professor inspired me and expanded my knowledge beyond the content in the classroom. It was a joy to attend class every day and witness their brilliance."
You have been involved in many areas of research while at Florida State. Could you briefly share with me about these research opportunities?
"The Honors Program actually connected me with my very first research opportunity as a second semester freshman. The opportunity to work with a graduate art history student on her exhibit, “Identity in the Ottoman Empire”, was one that I could not pass up, even though I knew very little about art history. I assisted in investigating the architectural and social history of design plates from the Ottoman Empire using mostly primary sources...Mainly I was in charge of writing “blurbs” about the design plates of the Ottoman bath houses."
In the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) I assisted Dr. Jayur Mehta, an anthropology professor, to create a survey intended to measure the thoughts and perceptions of undergraduate students on Climate Change...I had always wanted to design a survey and sought the experience of designing a study from scratch. I was also very interested in how anthropology and psychology could be used together in research. Unfortunately, this project was cut short due to COVID-19, but we were able to get some interesting primary results.
In my sociology research methods course, I completed a literature review on Imposture Syndrome, specifically how female-presenting individuals experience Imposter Syndrome in higher education and the anxieties that coincide with it. Since then, I have written other sociological papers that explore themes of gender, power-dynamics, discrimination and prejudice, and class inequality.
In the Plant Lab, I had the opportunity to work under first-year graduate student Grant Bailey as he began his data collection for his thesis. Grant’s research aims to explore the relational effects between an individual’s motivation to confront prejudice and moral licensing. Moral licensing is a psychological phenomenon in which completing an act that the individual deems as morally ‘good’ then counts as justification for that same individual to act less morally, or forgo another ‘good’ moral act in the future...We expect our findings to show that participants who are more internally motivated to confront prejudice will be less likely to experience the effects of moral licensing."
Please share about your leadership experiences as a FIG Leader and as Resident Assistant in Azalea Hall?
"I am very passionate about my experience as a Freshman Interest Group (FIG) Leader. I think that it was my most important leadership role during my time in college and it potentially shaped my future, as it made me consider becoming a professor one day. Interreacting with the next generation of Florida State students was inspiring and rewarding. Similarly, my role as a Resident Assistant (RA) was another opportunity that developed my leadership skills, but it presented very different types of challenges...Most importantly, I experienced an amazing community and team-focused workplace which sharpened my communication skills and my flexibility."
As you reflect on your time here at FSU, what advice would you share with a student just starting out?
"My advice for future students, as corny as it sounds, [is] 'nothing ventured, nothing gained!' Since graduating, I have not regretted a single course, program, club, activity, or opportunity that I tried, I only regret the things that I didn’t. College accounts for such a short period of your life, but it is your time to try everything that you can! Speak to that stranger sitting next to you, enroll in that class that seems hard, and apply to that program that you are interested in."
What are your plans beyond graduation?
"I plan to earn a doctorate in Social Psychology and to uncover more about the causes and effects of prejudice and discrimination. I plan to always advocate on behalf of the populations most vulnerable and under-resourced and to allow them to be accurately represented in my research. I plan to be a lifelong learner and carry out the values that were instilled in me throughout my time at Florida State, and maybe even return to this beautiful campus one day, as a professor."