Week 1 – Getting the Lay of the Land


Mansfield Foundation Fellow in Social Psychology (In memory of Merlin "Pat" Dreibelbis '39)

Ft. Hays State University | Hays, Kansas

June 6, 2017

After a four-hour drive from Chicago to Mt. Vernon, and then an eight-hour drive from Mt. Vernon Iowa, I finally made it to Hays, Kansas. I was greeted by my very welcoming housemate, Tommy. After Tommy helped me unpack my car, he took me out to dinner and introduced me to some of his friends. It felt nice to have a small welcoming party to make me feel, well welcomed.

The next day I had my first meeting with one of my mentors, Dr. Trey Hill. Tommy drove me to campus and walked me to the psychology building, Martin Allen Hall. I was 10 minutes early for my meeting with Dr. Hill and was asked to wait until he arrived. While I was waiting, I felt a strange combination of nervousness and excitement. I was nervous because I had no idea what to expect, but the same time, the feeling of uncertainty excited me because this was going to be a new experience. My mixture of emotions came to an end when Dr. Hill arrived. We went up to his office and got to know each other a little more and discussed what kind of work I would be doing during the summer. Dr. Hill explained that his area of interest in psychology is judgment and decision making and explained how that played into his current research interest involving detecting fake news stories. After our meeting, Dr. Hill offered to show me around campus.

Martin Allen Hall: The psychology building on campus           where I will be doing most of my work.

The next day I met with one of my other mentors, Dr. Whitney Jeter and a student of hers named Kate. Dr. Jeter explained to me that I would be helping her and Kate on a project that Kate is designing on the benefits of practicing mindfulness through an app. Since Kate and Dr. Jeter are still in the earlier stages on their research, they asked me to review the literature and examine how other studies measured variables and how they scored their results.

Fort Hays State University summer ’17

I met with my third mentor, Dr. Jennifer Bonds-Raacke, the following day. I was very excited to meet Dr. Bonds-Raacke. For my senior thesis, I wrote about social media and how it affects the well-being of individuals and one of the articles I referenced was written by her and her husband, John Raacke (who I also had the pleasure of meeting). In our meeting, Dr. Bonds-Raacke and I discussed multiple topics in social psychology and how they relate to social media. Dr. Bonds-Raacke and talked about possibly helping me set up my own research project, which would be amazing! She also gave me a list of restaurants in town which she considered to be the best places in Hays to eat, so that’s just an additional bonus to working with her.

I ended this week by unpacking the last of my things and saying goodbye to Tommy, who ended up not having to stay here for the summer. My first week in Hays was very straightforward, but I know this is just the start. I look forward to getting to work alongside my three mentors as they help me hone my skills in research and also develop new ones.

Nealy professional headshot

Aaron Nealy '17

Aaron Nealy is a psychology major from Chicago, Illinois.