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Maddie Mason
September 17, 2020

Psychology grad helps launch college leadership program

Maddie Mason ’20 came to Berry as a biochemistry major, but after exploring different courses, she gravitated toward studying the human mind. Coming to Berry with an interest in science and a passion for helping others, Maddie found her niche in the psychology department. Her involvement in the WinShape College Program, which includes a scholarship geared toward discipleship and community, as well as a research project, opened the door to opportunities. Today she is helping establish a similar program at North Carolina State University.

“I really feel passionate about the way the WinShape College Program equips students to understand their life purpose and the ways they’ve been uniquely gifted,” says Maddie. “I found that my gifting was more geared toward being with people and asking them questions.” As a result, she focused her interest on young adults and how students transitioning from high school to college form social connections that positively and negatively impact them.

Maddie utilized her resources and mentors to apply for a research grant through the Ralph George Berry Scholars Fund in Psychology. The grant allowed Maddie to conduct research evaluating the influence of social media on college students’ help-seeking behavior (for example, how willing students are to seek mental health counseling). Her findings showed that young adults who rely on social media for their friendships and community are less likely to seek support.

With help from Psychology Professor Kristen Diliberto-Macaluso, who directed her scholarship research, Maddie tested 318 Berry College undergraduates to examine how willing students are to seek out mental health counseling. “Maddie was probably one of the most bright, independent, self-driven students with whom I have worked in my 21-year career at Berry,” Diliberto-Macaluso says. “She taught herself to program her surveys in Qualtrics and to use advanced statistical techniques to analyze her data.”

Along with research, Maddie gained valuable hands-on experience as a student intern for a local counseling clinic called Battlefield Ministries. Executive Assistant Samantha Nash says, “When Maddie came to us at the end of her freshman year, she immediately came in and took initiative. She genuinely cared for the clients and learned how to respond well to people in difficult situations.” Maddie also shadowed counseling sessions, laying a solid foundation for her plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in counseling.

Throughout her experience at Berry, Maddie was able to focus on a career path that combines her knowledge and interest in fostering relationships, encouraging self-discovery and educating students. Engaged in the launch of the WinShape College Program at North Carolina State University, Maddie is thriving as a first- and second-year specialist mentoring undergraduate college students.

junior Mary Banks Shelander

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