Sarah Leonhardt

Sarah Leonhardt

Sarah Leonhardt
  • Psychology

Class of: 2016

The Carroll College Psychology program was instrumental in preparing me for graduate studies in social work at Boston University. The small class sizes fostered strong student-professor relationships, provided meaningful mentorship, and cultivated an exceptional learning environment. Not only did I receive a well-rounded education: I was exposed to cutting-edge research during my fellowship, given the freedom to investigate individuals with PTSD for my thesis, and was given real-world experience during my internship.

With the help of my mentor, I was accepted as a research fellow at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I received extensive training in the methods and theoretical principles for advanced neuroimaging techniques. Over the course of the fellowship, I received both classroom instruction and hands-on training in electroencephalography (EEG) 256-electrode net application, experimental procedures, data acquisition, data analysis, and equipment trouble-shooting. Not only did I learn a substantial amount of technical skills, I also found the research process both thrilling and rewarding.

 During my internship as student-volunteer at the Department of Veteran Affairs, I was given the amazing opportunity to volunteer on the inpatient Behavioral Health Unit. I assisted Clinical Psychologists and Social Workers with daily treatments for veterans suffering from PTSD and substance abuse problems. Daily treatments included working with individual veterans on their trauma narratives and collaborating with the recreational therapist on art therapy. I was responsible for organizing and preparing materials designed for psychoeducational groups such as relapse prevention, anger management, and suicide prevention. In addition, I co-facilitated the treatment groups under the supervision of licensed professional staff members, an experience I found very rewarding.

I spent the majority of my undergraduate career devoted to researching individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Together, we tested the effects of whether having an animal present enhanced task performance on various neuropsychological tasks. My particular role in the research was focused on the physiological aspects. Specifically, troubleshooting software issues with  (EEG) and monitoring physiological changes during tasks. For my honors thesis, I specifically looked at personality factors that may be related to vulnerabilities in PTSD diagnosis. For example, I tested how individual personality differences and PTSD status may impact cognitive performance.

Overall, my experience with Carroll College’s Psychology program was phenomenal.