Virtually Unstoppable: Psychology Students Present at Virtual Conference

Two groups of Westminster students recently participated in a virtual Mid-America Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference on April 24.

A glimpse at their work found here reveals just how rigorously the Department of Psychology prepares students for professional careers or graduate school — a characteristic found in all departments at the College.

Department of Psychology Chair Dr. Abby Coats says the professional and academic opportunities available at Westminster help set the institution apart.

“Presenting at conferences is something that most students don’t get to do until graduate school,” Coats explains, adding that Westminster Department of Psychology faculty have taken students to conferences for more than 20 years.

Additionally, Coats says students at this year’s conference each spent about 60 hours on their research. She adds that Westminster student Zhaoming Wang, ’20, presented nine months of in-depth research at the Gerontological Society of American annual meeting in November 2019 in Austin, TX.

Zhaoming Wang, left, presented nine months of in-depth research at the Gerontological Society of American annual meeting in November 2019 in Austin, TX. Dr. Abby Coats, right, says Westminster students are offered unique opportunities that often are only available to students in graduate school.

“All of the students who prepare for these conferences work very hard and are highly motivated,” Coats says.

Students who participated in the Mid-America Undergraduate Psychology Research Conference include Barrett Houska, Anna Oliver, Keyanna Andrews, Rebecca Bond and Amanda Davis for their study on “Depression, Anxiety and Stress in College Athletes.” Their presentations can be found here.

Likewise, Raegan Huhn, Brooke Berendzen, Allison Cook and DeAndre White studied “Relation and Expression of Narcicission at Westminster College,” found here.

Coats explains that about half of Westminster’s psychology students go directly into the workforce, while the other half attend graduate school. For those who seek a higher degree, their interests include counseling, social work, clinical psychology, industrial/organizational psychology and applied behavior analysis. Others choose to study occupational therapy, law or business.

Raegan Huhn, ’20, who participated in the April 24 virtual conference will head to graduate school this fall to study counseling psychology. The Westphalia, MO, native says Westminster prepared her well for the next step in her career. Participating in the research conference, writing a senior thesis and working at an internship in her area of interest all helped solidify her future plans.

Huhn says, “With my master’s degree, I plan to get my license and become a rape and abuse counselor, and my internship [at the Rape and Abuse Crisis Service in Jefferson City] helped prepare me for that.”

For more information on Westminster’s Department of Psychology, email


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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.