Volunteer work provides growth for psychology student


A desire to help others led Ashley White '14 of Westminster, Mass., to major in psychology. After she graduates next spring, she plans to earn her doctorate and become a clinical psychologist so that she might help those who have experienced trauma in their lives.

Although she wants to provide counseling to people recovering from trauma caused by grief, abuse, illness and other situations, White also is interested in becoming a yoga instructor so she might incorporate that exercise into the trauma therapy she will provide.

An experience she had over the summer reinforced her desire to do this work.

"I worked at a therapeutic camp this summer called Camp Starfish, located in Rindge, N. H., for children with emotional and behavioral disorders," she explained. "Working there for three months really validated that I want to do this kind of work for the rest of my life."

While her main interest lies in helping children, "I am very open to new possibilities that I may learn about after graduate school."

MCLA has provided White with a plethora of learning and growth opportunities during her time on campus.

These high impact activities include her participation in the LEAD Academy, the Student Activities Council, Friends of Foster families and the Write Stuff, where she mentors local students in the North Adams School System, helping them to improve their writing skills. In addition, she volunteers at the Adams Youth Center.

As a freshman, White went on an alternative spring break trip to Belize, where she and other MCLA students planted 150 fruit trees to replace those lost in a hurricane.

"Right now I am doing an internship at the Elizabeth Freeman Center, a center that provides counseling, shelter and advocacy for survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault," she said. "I stay very busy!"

Besides her volunteering efforts, White this year is a senior ambassador, where she serves as a liaison between the student ambassadors and the Admissions counselors. She began working with Admissions in her sophomore year, when she was a student ambassador.

"I began the semester doing the student ambassador training, as well as training the new ambassadors on how to give tours," she said. "I like to be a mentor and make sure everyone is doing okay with their course schedule, and help them with any questions or problems they have."

The best part of the position, however, is showing new tour guides how to give tours of the campus.

"I really love how I get to watch them grow and become such amazing student ambassadors, combining Admissions' training and their own story to represent MCLA. I like being able to help them by using my own experiences."

As high school senior anxious to select the right college, MCLA stood out to White from other campuses she'd looked at.

"Everyone at MCLA - the admissions counselors, faculty, professors and students - were unscripted and down-to-earth. They genuinely seemed interested in me and who I was as a person," White explained. "They exemplified this tight-knit community that I immediately wanted to be a part of. I felt so comfortable being there.  With MCLA's small classes, individualized attention and strong sense of community, my gut feeling told me that I could grow at MCLA."

What's the best part of being an MCLA student? According to White, it's the support and guidance she receives from all of her professors.

"They are so knowledgeable and experienced, and so willing to help students! I find them all amazing," she said. "That really makes MCLA not only a place of learning, but growing."