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Reaching for the unknown goal

At the beginning of her senior year, psychology student Stephanie Barefoot ’22 began working on her senior thesis merely to fulfill the requirements of the Albright College Honors program. But by the following spring, she was presenting her findings at the Eastern Psychological Association (EPA) 2022 conference in front of researchers from every corner of psychology.

Stephanie Barefoot
Stephanie Barefoot

Barefoot has always strived for excellence. Throughout her Albright career, she was a regular Dean’s List recipient who tutored peer students in upper-level psychology classes. As a member of the class of 2022, she graduated summa cum laude and was named a top Jacob Albright Scholar, as well as earning a departmental distinction in psychology award.

But while earning good grades and excelling as a student has always been important to Barefoot, her Albright journey has helped her to also realize that she could reach farther, while also making an impact on future generations.  

“I didn’t really have many goals other than to get my degree and get a good job,” said Barefoot, “but I feel like [Albright] gave me goals to reach for that I didn’t even know existed.”

The EPA conference, for example, allowed her to share her work with a broader audience and connect with a vast network of like-minded researchers. The organization, which was founded in 1896, has a long history of uniting psychologists with a variety of interests to share discoveries and distribute new scientific literature. For Barefoot, presenting her research at the conference allowed her to breach the boundaries of the college environment, which boosted her confidence as a psychology student.

“It makes you feel good to accomplish something separate from a class. It can make you feel like less of an imposter,” said Barefoot.

Barefoot’s thesis, “An Investment Model View on Motivations for Romantic Relationship Presentation on Instagram,” explores social media users’ dyadic displays on the popular photo-sharing app. Through curated surveys and statistical analysis, Barefoot examined factors such as relationship protection, communal interests, privacy and self-enhancement. She completed the project under the direction of Albright Associate Professor Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D., who had conducted similar research on Facebook users.

Barefoot largely credits professors like Seidman for pushing her to reach her full potential. Seidman has worked especially close with Barefoot in her academic development, and the two are currently collaborating to seek publication for Barefoot’s research. Barefoot noted, however, that Albright’s faculty support students not only in their accomplishments but through their struggles as well.

“The professors really work with you when you need it,” she said. “If you approach them with a problem, they’ll usually work with you to solve it. They don’t just leave you out to dry. If anything was to happen or if I had to miss a class or miss assignments, I’ve never really felt stressed because I’ve known my professors would support me through it.”

Recognizing the pivotal support of her Albright professors, she hopes to circle back to support other students at a younger age. She has been accepted to West Chester University, where she will begin working toward her Master in Education degree in school counseling this fall.

“I think that would have been really helpful for me to have somebody in [K-12] school to rely on, more than just my family,” explained Barefoot. “I think that it would have made a big difference for me, and I just think every young kid deserve someone to be on their side.”

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