Emily Northey ’22

Emily Northey

Hometown: Lynnwood, WA
Degree: Master of Science — Research Psychology 

For Emily Northey ’22, the master of science in research psychology program is all about independence — becoming an independent researcher and finding opportunities to apply her skills beyond the classroom.

“I appreciate how faculty push me to problem solve on my own initially,” Northey says, “which allows me to grow as an independent researcher.”

Yet it’s also a program rooted in community. One of the main appeals of the program at Seattle Pacific University was the small class sizes, where she could collaborate with both professors and classmates as they worked together to develop ideas for research projects. Taking multiple classes with the same people has enabled her to develop a strong network of diverse voices.

“SPU has been a place where I have created lifelong relationships,” she adds. “I have seen the value that everyone — regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation — brings to the table.”

Going into the program, Northey was nervous about balancing the rigorous course-load of a graduate program and the demands of being a student athlete and having a job. Yet the program is set up such that that there is time to do independent work outside of class.

Moreover, her undergraduate experience at SPU prepared her well for the level of academic rigor and responsibility in the research psychology program. Northey took several psychology-based statistics classes as an undergrad, and is now applying that knowledge to real-world situations, such as her capstone project. As an undergraduate, she had participated in a research group, but now she’s spear-heading her own project and leading a group of research assistants for the first time.

She’s currently working with Eduardo Fernandez, assistant professor of psychology, with a background in animal welfare, looking at the impact of new animal introductions on the behavior of marine mammal species and visitor activity at the Seattle Aquarium.

With Fernandez’s expertise and connections, Northey has been able to grow quickly in her field, making professional connections and gaining research experience.

“The faculty have been very helpful in allowing me to explore my passion and interests while connecting me with outside resources who can help as I develop my research project,” she notes.

The variety of research backgrounds that faculty bring, combined with the freedom to take electives such as survey research and qualitative research methods, mean that even in just one-year students can tailor their education to their passions and interests.

For Northey, the program is the start of a journey: “It’s a steppingstone as I venture out into the working world.”

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