Success Stories

Study abroad leads to research

Alison McNulty

Alison McNulty does not just excel in her Grand Valley classes; her excellence abroad has allowed other students across the nation to perform undergraduate research studies at the University of Deusto.

As a double major in psychology and Spanish, McNulty combined her interests to perform two different research projects at the university in Spain. The first project consisted of studying adolescent’s perception of their communication of psychological difficulties on social media networks.

McNulty’s work on the project consisted of preparing the manuscript, which included analysis of bibliographic searches. This manuscript was presented at the 2012 American Psychological Association’s annual conference and will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.

The second project investigated the difficulties families of children with celiac disease face regarding nutrition. McNulty was responsible for transcribing, in Spanish, the interviews conducted with families.

“I love Spanish and wanted to do more than just speak it,” said McNulty whose interest in both psychology and Spanish inspired her to study abroad to gain real-world experience. “Generally, I like to learn about different cultures.”

Grand Valley helped her get to where she is now on multiple levels. “Going into the project, I knew all of the basics of research,” says McNulty. “I learned all the skills beforehand and I got to apply them in Spain.”

Natalia Gomez, a Grand Valley Spanish professor who set up the opportunity, spoke highly of McNulty. “I was amazed by her concentration and her goals,” Gomez said. “She wanted to be pushed farther.”

McNulty also valued Gomez’ assistance with her trip. “She has been a huge help and support. If I were to do something, she’d help me do it,” said McNulty

McNulty is the first student in the United States to do an international undergraduate research study with the University of Deusto. Gomez said because of McNulty’s success abroad, the International Spanish Center of the University of Deusto is allowing other students from across the United States to study and perform research at their institution.

“Her determination to overcome the difficulties of studying and doing research abroad made this program possible for other students,” Gomez said.

McNulty is currently applying for graduate school to obtain a doctorate degree in counseling psychology.

by DeLain Bomer III

This story was filed with the tags: Academic Excellence, Research after GVSU