Hometown: Myrtle Beach, S.C.
High School: Academy for the Arts, Science & Technology
Possible career: Finance
Mikalena came to Swarthmore with an interest in human behavior and decision making, as well as a commitment to make a positive impact on her community. In her freshman and sophomore years, this translated into studying psychology and theater. She was active in student theater directing, designing, and stage managing.
During the winter of her sophomore year, Mikalena interned at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, affiliated with Columbia University. She assisted with research on "The Mindfulness Based Treatment of Anxiety Disorders." She also volunteered in the Audubon Outpatient Clinic, where she built a complex excel spreadsheet to score the The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, one of the most widely used tools in diagnosis. This spreadsheet was a great help for the clinic; it simplified the scoring of this 567-question assessment, which many psychologists still evaluate by hand.
These experiences further inspired Mikalena's desire to study psychology and passion for helping others. Particularly interested in Personality Theory, she worked on an independent study of therapeutic modalities ranging from Freud to Jung to Rogers. She also mentored children at the Horry County Children's shelter, where she provided support for children in crisis.
To gain further academic research experience, she spent a summer assisting a professor at Widener University with Cross-Cultural Psychology research. She studied the impact of religion on mental health in Southeast Asia. In culmination of these experiences, she chose to focus her senior comprehensive research paper on how Narrative Therapy can help children and adults overcome mental health issues.
In firm belief of the versatility of a rigorous liberal arts education, upon graduation Mikalena accepted an offer at Vanguard. She plans to apply her propensity for understanding human behavior and communicating with others to learn more about investor behavior and its impact on the market. She is also excited to learn about the vital role of ethics in investing.