Mind of Her Own

Mind of Her Own

ChambersEntering Professor Karen Chamber’s office, students are drawn to the posters on the walls, with rolling green hills and wandering sheep. Most of them associate Chambers with Saint Mary’s study abroad program in Maynooth, Ireland, which she coordinates. Although highly dedicated to the program, her real love is inspiring interest in the study of psychology.

Now an associate professor of psychology, Chambers earned her BA from the State University of New York at Buffalo and MA and PhD from Kent State. As a young graduate, she had no idea what to do with her degree in psychology, only that she enjoyed enriching her mind through education. She enthusiastically explains, “I asked myself, ‘What am I going to do with a PhD in psychology?’ Well, I could teach psychology at the college level. ‘Cool,’ I thought. ‘I can stay in school!’ ”

When Chambers first visited Saint Mary’s in 1996, she was struck by the campus’ beauty. More importantly, she liked the energy between professors and students. Emphasizing the partnership and equality between them, she notes, “The faculty are positive influences on the students, and I enjoy the atmosphere of an all-women’s college.”

An expert in cognitive psychology, Chambers also teaches statistics and research methods. She insists that developing a thorough understanding of statistics “is fundamental to living in society.” A well-qualified psychologist needs to be able to think logically to understand the differences in groups and draw conclusions. For both Chambers and her students, the process of learning these skills is empowering.

Anne Cusack, a 2007 graduate, is earning her doctorate in clinical psychology with a concentration in forensics at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She credits Chambers with sparking her interest in the field: “The more Professor Chambers taught me about forensic psychology, the more fascinated I became! She really made it clear how many different ways psychology and the legal system can work together.”

Besides developing young women’s minds, Chambers feels strongly about shaping them into successful, well-rounded individuals. She is convinced that study abroad is a powerful part of a liberal arts education, imperative to discovering oneself and turning personal weaknesses into strengths. Every year, she sees students develop independence and maturity through the Ireland program. “It is a real chance to live your life, and to become yourself.”

—Megan Stokes ’09