LASR Program News: Tessa Pham ’16 “Abnormal Psychology”

“Our school has provided a great environment for me because it encourages me to ask a lot of questions. When I’m doing my own research, I’m not worried about whether or not my work fits someone else’s parameters. There is no limit to what I can do.”
Tessa, a new student this year from Hanoi, Vietnam, has embraced opportunities to craft a custom curriculum through the LASR Program. Here, she describes two independent research projects that she is leading this year.

“I took the Research Seminar course last semester and my project was about Escapism. It is a concept that describes people’s need to “escape” from reality every once in a while. I sought to explain why escapism exists and find out its impact on people’s lives by looking at scientific journal articles written by psychologists and professors, analyzing surveys and conducting interviews. I built and sent out a survey to the whole school in order to collect original research.
This semester I am doing an independent study project on psychological disorders. Ayaka is my mentor.” Ayaka, WMS Associate Director of Admission, is a recent Bowdoin College alumna who earned a major in psychology and a minor in education. Ayaka says, “Tessa is driven. She has big ideas, and I’m excited to help give her some direction. Last week we evaluated different resources for her research, and we found some great scientific journal articles. I’m also excited to work with Tessa because abnormal psych. was not my primary background. I’m going to learn from her research, too. Mentorship of Tessa’s LASR project helps me understand the academic side of our school even better. I’ll be able to talk about the LASR Program from a more personal perspective now.”
When asked about her passion for psychology Tessa said, “I think it is very interesting. I love studying the interactions between people and learning how to understand their behaviors. Who are my idols? Well, I guess I’ve always admired the character of Sherlock Holmes. I’m also inspired by a TED Talk called “The Paradox of Choice” by Barry Schwartz, a professor at Swarthmore College. I really love that TED Talk. The first time I watched it I started thinking very deeply about how people behave and how they make their choices.”
So what’s next for Tessa? After exploring psychology through the LASR Program this year and next year, she plans to continue her studies in college with more research on psychological disorders.

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