News & Stories
June 24, 2022

The power to help

By Debbie Rasure


Lynneatte Quenin (22C) came to Berry with a caring heart and a strong desire to help people, especially those on the brink of suicide. She quickly determined that those traits – however commendable – weren’t going to be enough.

Not long into her college journey, she began work as a trained and certified volunteer with the Crisis Text Line, a global nonprofit providing free mental health services and crisis intervention through SMS messaging. The psychology major hoping for a career in counseling was grateful for the hands-on experience but quickly identified a problem: hundreds of people in crisis were waiting hours for the opportunity to text with too few counselors.


"She has an amazing ability to figure out how to make things work. Most students would just give up, but she never does." — Dr. Victor Bissonnette

“When I would finally get to someone who had been waiting, they would be so upset about how long it took,” she explained. “I wanted to find a way to help these people, a way to fix the system so that people in crisis weren’t spending an enormous amount of time waiting to talk with someone.”

A means for solving such dilemmas revealed itself when Quenin was introduced to data analytics while conducting research as a donor-supported George Scholar. She immediately began envisioning how agencies could harness this power to effectively improve their services, leading to a change in her educational and career focus.

With guidance from research mentor Dr. Victor Bissonnette, associate professor of psychology, Quenin explored how choices made by emotionally stimulated subjects are impacted by personality and the intensity of their circumstances. In the process, she worked with real data and study participants, learning how to analyze the results. This so excited her that she asked Bissonnette if she could take on extra work to learn statistical programming with the goal of being prepared for graduate school.

Bissonnette was surprised by the request.

“It’s the kind of work that sends shivers of fear up the spines of graduate students,” he said. “But I offered to do an informal seminar with her, and we ended up teaching each other. We would each do the homework, figure out how to solve the problems, and sometimes her code was more eloquent than mine. She has an amazing ability to figure out how to make things work. Most students would just give up, but she never does. She just patiently sticks with it and often conquers the challenge perfectly.”

In addition to her scholarly research, Quenin has indulged her heart for helping others as a disaster workforce volunteer with the American Red Cross and as a community service partner with the Salvation Army. The Lettie Pate Whitehead Scholar also has gained valuable perspective as a participant in the mentoring program offered by the Berry Center for Integrity in Leadership while challenging herself as an Honors student.

Contemplating the end of her time at Berry, she expressed gratitude for those who have invested in her along the way.

“I’ve had so many people pushing me forward and encouraging me throughout my journey,” she said. “I’m incredibly thankful for the professors who encouraged me to pursue research, the people who recommended me for committees and groups on campus, those who’ve advised me, inspired me, and those who noticed the abilities and skills I have but cannot see. Thanks to these people, I am able to leave Berry confidently and look forward with anticipation to my next steps.”

This fall, she will begin a master’s program in data science and analytics at Georgia State University with plans to pursue a doctorate in social psychology. Ultimately, she wants to work with nonprofits and government agencies to help find effective ways to improve their services and increase their reach – her caring heart and desire to help now emboldened by a vision for how she can make a real difference.

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