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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement.
When she graduates in a few weeks, Catie Carson will have accomplished more in her four years at Arizona State University than many students across the nation. She will graduate with a double major in psychology and justice studies, and with a human rights certificate and minor in Mandarin Chinese. Carson was named the spring 2018 Dean’s Medalist for the ASU Department of Psychology.
Carson is also a Fulbright English Teaching recipient and will teach English next year in Taiwan. While working in the Behavioral Neuroscience of Memory and Aging Lab with psychology Professor Heather Bimonte-Nelson, Carson was an author on two peer-reviewed publications, published in volume 64 of the Neurobiology of Aging and in volume 87 of Hormones and Behavior.
She also completed an honors thesis with Delia Saenz, associate professor in psychology and the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, on the impact of numerical distinctiveness on social and academic outcomes of Native American Honors' students. Additionally, she studied discrimination and societal issues in the Evolutionary Social Psychology Lab with Steven Neuberg, Foundation Professor and chair of the Department of Psychology.
"From the time that Catie started working in our laboratory as a high school student, it was clear she had far-reaching potential. Catie is a naturally deep and methodical critical thinker, and she has an uncanny ability to assimilate material across difficult theoretical concepts. She thinks with breadth and depth,” Bimonte-Nelson said. “These are rare skill sets and gifts for such a young scholar. No matter what her path, I have no doubt that Catie will accomplish anything she decides to do.”
"It has been such a pleasure to serve as Catie's thesis advisor and mentor. Throughout, she has demonstrated the highest levels of intellectual curiosity, motivation, leadership, and concern for justice. Her thesis is but one example of Catie's approach to blending these attributes," Saenz said. "Even at this early stage of her career, Catie is at once a scientist, a practitioner, a humanist, and a bridge-builder. The recognition she has received is much deserved."
Carson is also the Barrett Honors College Outstanding Graduate, an award given annually to the highest-achieving undergraduate in Barrett, The Honors College. This award is given to only one bachelor-degree graduate from each college. Award recipients have demonstrated exceptional academic achievement, with special attention to extracurricular activities and service to their college.
“There are so many deserving students in the Barrett Honors College, and I’m sure any of them could have won,” Carson said. “I am grateful that my interests were recognized.”
Carson had an international upbringing: She lived in Arizona until her father’s job moved her family to China for three years. Carson credits living in China with giving her a broad perspective about how people live and inspiring her to want to make a difference everywhere she goes.
“Catie is the kind of student who makes your heart leap with enthusiasm. She is very smart, intellectually thoughtful, curious, eager to learn and willing to challenge conventional ideas, all the while being authentically kind, caring and driven in a calmly intense way to make the world a better place,” Neuberg said.
Carson chose to attend ASU because it afforded her the opportunity to earn a liberal arts education at a nationally recognized university and to conduct research with faculty that supported her passion of serving others.
One of her primary interests outside of class is the Gammage Scholars group. The group consists of 16 Grady and Kathryn Gammage scholarship recipients who work on a variety of service projects such as renovating an elder-care facility, mentoring kids at local elementary schools and hosting a prom for veterans. The scholars group honors the legacy of the former president of Arizona State University who pledged intellectual vision and a commitment to the well-being of the broader community.
In addition, Carson is a community assistant at Vista del Sol, a residential housing complex on campus for students of Barrett, the Honors College; works as a tutor off campus; and leads a campus ministry group. She also interned with AmeriCorps at ASU's School of Social Work, where she worked specifically on domestic violence. Additionally, she was awarded a scholarship from the Friends of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict that enabled her to intern over the summer with a nonprofit that focuses on autism in Tajikistan.
“It’s been an incredible pleasure to have her working in my lab and as a student in my class,” Neuberg said. “I can’t wait to see what she does in the next phase of her life … and beyond!”