Lander Student Davis Aims for Ph.D. in Sports Psychology

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Lander University psychology major Chelsea Davis has “always been interested in why people do things.”

Davis, an Honors College student from Lexington, gained some insight into the complexities of human behavior as the result of an internship with the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), which allowed her to work with criminal profilers in SLED’s Behavior Science Unit.

“A day at the unit consisted of reviewing crime scene photos, gathering data for ongoing cases, sitting in on consultations and watching interviews of suspects. My favorite part was sitting in on consultations, because I watched as the agents combined their psychological knowledge to create a criminal profile. It was an exciting internship that broadened my perspective on the uses of psychology,” she said.

She is currently assisting Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Mandy Cleveland in a research project exploring the relationship between mental toughness, coping, burnout and resilience, in hopes of gaining insight into why some college athletes are successful in finding a balance between academics and sports, and others are not. The project ties in with Davis’s goal of earning a Ph.D. in sports psychology.

“My dream is to teach and research at a D1 school while helping athletes as a certified mental performance consultant,” she said.

Davis is vice president of Lander’s chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho, Inc., which works to enhance the quality of life for women through community service projects. She is also vice president of Active Minds, a new organization on campus that lobbies for mental health.

“We believe a student shouldn’t suffer in silence, and we try to educate Lander on a diversity of mental health topics, including depression, anxiety, and bi-polar disorder,” she said.

The esteem in which Davis is held by Lander faculty members can be seen in her work with assistant professors of psychology Dr. Tess Gemberling and Dr. Shana Southard-Dobbs, who have her hosting sessions to help other students understand the material and sometimes teaching lessons herself.

Southard-Dobbs said that Davis has put together “an impressive portfolio for graduate school,” and she is impressed with her in other ways, too.

“Chelsea is not only an excellent student academically, but she’s an engaged citizen of her university community. As a Psychology 101 supplemental instructor, she plays a critical role in helping our newer Lander students adjust to collegiate life, and they really benefit from her example of excellence and shared wisdom,” she said.

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