Alum of the Month: Katelyn Horsley

Katelyn Horsley

January 26, 2022 - 1:45pm

VIU Psychology alum Katelyn Horsley is pursuing a graduate science degree with an undergraduate degree in the arts. After graduating from Vancouver Island University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts, Honours in Psychology, she began a Master of Science degree at the University of Calgary. Horsley credits her undergraduate experiences at VIU with setting her on her current journey.

Why did you choose VIU for your education?

I was born and raised on the Island, making it a very hard place to leave. On top of that, I was obsessed with true crime shows, leading me to first pursue a Criminology diploma at VIU. I soon realized the psychology electives I was taking contained the most interesting content – a subject devoted to explaining the brain and behaviour. By the end of my degree I had made a home for myself at VIU. I’m so thankful I received my undergraduate degree from such a wonderful institution.

Tell us about your experience at VIU and in your program.

My five years at VIU were honestly some of the best years of my life so far. The campus is beautiful, the students are keen and the professors are so supportive. I met Dr. Elliott Marchant in my second-year psychology research methods class and completely changed my academic direction. This decision was one of the best in my life and I soon discovered the entire Psychology department to be a very important support system. I am happy to call many of them lifelong friends and mentors. Elliott was by far the most influential. He took me under his wing by training me in his Sleep and Biological Rhythms Lab, teaching me the beauty and complexity of circadian rhythms, connecting me with potential graduate supervisors, and helping me gain essential research skills and experiences. I was his assistant lab manager and lab manager during my undergraduate degree. These experiences let me gain leadership experience, while also helping me develop my lab skills. I was also able to quit my serving job to focus more on school and research. I ran several research projects during this time, many of them focused on the circadian behaviour of fruit flies. One of my projects won a VIU REACH award. Without VIU I would not be where I am today.

How did your program prepare you for your current role in the workforce, or for further studies in your field?

Receiving an undergraduate degree in psychology with honours was essential to continuing my academic journey. I want to do research and likely teach classes in the future, meaning I need to go to graduate school for many years. I was happy to hear that VIU would have an honours program in time for my graduation year and I believe this helped me secure a graduate student position at the University of Calgary. In addition, the small class sizes and emphasis on written assignments allowed me to craft my writing skills and really learn the material. Working with Elliott also helped me prepare my lab skills. During my degree, he took myself and other lab members to Simon Fraser University to perform surgeries, microscopy and watch graduate thesis defenses. Without these experiences, I would not be where I am.

What’s next for you?

Right now, I am pursuing a Master of Science in Psychology at the University of Calgary, where I am working with Dr. Michael Antle in his Chronobiology Lab. I hope to finish my degree, continue with my PhD and likely pursue a post-doctoral degree. Once all my education is complete, I hope to conduct some type of research that merges circadian rhythms with ecology by doing field studies. I also hope to attend conferences in person in the coming years, once COVID-19 has been resolved. My passion to figure out more about the brain and behaviour makes going to school enjoyable, and an obvious step in achieving my academic goals. I am truly doing what I love and never working a day in my life.

What are you most proud of since completing your program at VIU?

I am most proud of receiving two important scholarships. Firstly, I received a Canadian Graduate Masters Scholarship through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada before starting my master’s program. Three quarters of the way into the first year of my program, I also received a Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) Graduate Recruitment Scholarship in Neuroscience. While both are highly competitive scholarships, I was the first Antle lab member to receive an HBI scholarship. Furthermore, this scholarship is typically awarded to medical students, and I have a Bachelor of Arts degree, making this a significant accomplishment. I had several professors, students and even family members tell me I couldn’t pursue a science degree with an arts undergraduate degree. Well, here I am, doing it just fine!

What advice would you give VIU students following a similar trajectory as yourself?

Don’t limit yourself. I came into VIU expecting to get a degree in criminology and then work my way up from a basic government job. I knew I was capable of so much more, even if it seemed scary or unobtainable in the moment. Here I am to prove that you can do it, even if you initially doubt yourself. Try hard and you will likely do well.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

If you take advantage of all that VIU has to offer, studying here could be one of the most life-changing experiences!

Katelyn in grad cap

Tags: Psychology | Our Alumni

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