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Students honored by Cameron University Department of Psychology

The Cameron University Department of Psychology honored five students with Student of the Year awards during its departmental student recognition ceremony.

Colette Highsmith, Lawton, was named MSBS Behavioral Sciences: General Psychology Student of the Year. Highsmith attended Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from Purdue University prior to joining the Cameron’s MSBS program. Her academic record has been impeccable, and she has been, and continues to be, an invaluable member of the Social Learning and Perception lab under her research advisor, Dr. Jeff Seger. Highsmith is currently leading a research project looking at the role of life history strategies in attention to attracting others, for which she has already presented a research proposal at the 2024 research convention of the Southwestern Psychological Association. She is described as having “a fierce spirit, an enduring will and a kind heart.”

Jennifer Smith, Lawton, was recognized as the MA Mental Health: Counseling Student of the Year. Smith is a practicum student at Marie Detty Youth and Family Services, where she has served in various programs for that organization over the academic year. In addition, she has served as the student representative to the Graduate Committee at CU. She was recently chosen as the Oklahoma Psychological Society Graduate Student of the Year. Faculty members say that she “models excellence in academics and counseling practice. She is a model student, which is reflected in her exemplary GPA and leadership in the classroom.”

Hunter Kraus, Lawton, was honored as MA Mental Health: Marriage and Family Student of the Year. Kraus was awarded a highly coveted appointment as a clinical practicum student at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic. Faculty members refer to him as “a perceptive and intelligent graduate student who has exhibited high regard for the process of learning, the attainment of knowledge and the practical application of clinical mental health skills. He has shown the knack for being a leader while at other times having the discernment to know when to sit back and allow others to take the lead. His persistence to achieve and maintain high standards has been paramount in establishing a firm foundation for his growth and development which has culminated in a commendable GPA. These qualities are an impressive strength that will continue to serve him as a future marital and family therapist.”

Saige Schmidt, Lawton, was named: BS Psychology Major of the Year. Faculty members describe Schmidt as “a selfless individual who embodies excellence. He is a fantastic student, an exceptional researcher, and a wonderful human being.” Schmidt has served as president of CU’s Student Government Association since Spring 2022, held leadership positions in numerous campus organizations, volunteered in various areas, developed and led mental health service projects, and represented Cameron at events and conferences. He also directs a childcare program at a local YMCA. Schmidt has led a project in Dr. Jeff Seger's Social Learning and Perception lab to examine whether the length of one's relationship impacts their willingness to use aggression as a mate guarding tactic. He has presented work associated with this project at several state research conferences as well as at an international research conference. He currently plans to attend graduate school at Oklahoma State University and work under Dr. James Grice.

Hailey Morrison, Mangum, was recognized as BS Family and Child Studies Major of the Year. Morrison has gone above and beyond course requirements, sought opportunities to work on research projects outside of class, and maintained a strong GPA. She demonstrates a passion for learning and a determination to succeed. Her determination is especially evident as she has partnered with faculty members to gain job shadowing experiences in the field as well as in academic pursuits as she hopes to continue her education into graduate school.

The department also recognized students who presented posters at research conferences. They are Schmidt, who won first place in the undergraduate research paper competition at the Oklahoma Psychological Society meeting; Highsmith and Jessica Schott, Lawton, who presented research at the Southwestern Psychological Association; Mackenzie Lee, Lookeba, who presented research at Oklahoma Research Day; and Ashley Harless, Lawton, who presented research at the Oklahoma Counseling Association meeting.



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