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Psychology Department Outreach Committee Seeks to Encourage
High School Students Academically

outreachGraduate students Robert Vlisides-Henry, MaryJane Campbell and Grace Nicora drove to Cedar City in May 2018 to talk with 11th graders at SUCCESS Academy early-college high school.  As part of the presentations to over 60 students, Robert, MaryJane and Grace discussed their individual research programs, graduate school in general and what the University of Utah had to offer in terms of undergraduate education and success.  The Outreach Committee went to St. George, Utah to present to SUCCESS Academy again on Friday, October 26th.  The graduate students presenting were Robert Vlisides-Henry, MaryJane Campbell, Erica Barhorst-Cates, and Danielle Geerling.  A second group will be going down to Cedar City to present at SUCCESS Academy again on Friday, November 2nd.  Faculty advisor, Jeanine Stefanucci along with graduate students Grace Nicora, Lauren Williams, Sara LoTemplio and Morgan Saxon.

The Outreach Committee is a young organization in the department of psychology, with a stated goal of diversifying the University of Utah student population, as rural students are highly underrepresented nationally in higher education.  Jeanine Stefanucci is the director of undergraduate studies in the department of psychology.  In a media release she stated, “As a department, we value different experiences in our undergraduates. We believe that students from rural areas in the state bring a unique perspective to higher education.”

There is concern that rural students’ face a lack of resources — both financial and school-related  — and poorer academic self-efficacy. Many rural students have had few family members attend and graduate from college. As a result, Robert believes they  “are more likely to see the cost of college attendance as risky and will be less likely to attend.”  This is where the Outreach Committee wants to intervene. Members of the committee are striving to share psychological science with high school students. “Of course, we hope to increase student interest in psychology as a potential major,” Robert said in the release. “But we first and foremost want to boost students’ beliefs in their academic abilities.”

Robert also intends to start a mentoring program with members of the committee helping guide high school students through the college application process. Interested students are encouraged to e-mail the group at or call the University of Utah psychology department and leave a message for Robert Vlisides-Henry at 801-581-6124. Any administrators or educators interested in a presentation by the Outreach Committee are also encouraged to contact the group. Read Full Article Here.  

Last Updated: 6/4/21