Psychology major Brandon Legendre ’17 of St. Johnsbury, Vt., was an intern this summer with the Psychology Department at Columbia University in New York City. There, the captain of Colby-Sawyer’s track and cross country teams was able to explore the intersection of his interests in psychology and athletics.
He hopes to be a sport therapist and help athletes understand what they need to do to achieve both happiness and excellence. The field of psychology is broad, though, and therapy is only one aspect of the discipline. “I came out of my internship experience with a new perspective of what a psychologist does,” Legendre said.
Most of Legendre’s time at Columbia was spent comparing data on the anxiety and depression levels of adopted children and adolescents with those who live with their birth parents. By isolating variables and performing multiple tests over time, research psychologists hope to discover how the human brain operates in a variety of conditions. In the last few days of his internship, Legendre able to focus on the variable of physical activity, which is directly related to his interest in sports psychology, to see what influence it had on the children central to the study.
“Statistical analysis,” Legendre said, which he gained a foundation in through PSY302: Statistical Methods for Psychology, “was the most difficult part.” It was also the most fulfilling. A sea of flickering numbers and symbols slowly came into focus for Legendre, who noted that by the end of the internship he thought he could probably teach a class on Statistical Package for the Social Science (SPSS), a statistical program often used in the field to manipulate and analyze data.
One of the most beneficial aspects of Legendre’s internship was the chance to live in New York City. “I never would have understood how many people there are in the city if I hadn’t lived there,” he said, noting that he can see a cow from his family’s house in Vermont, a state whose population is dwarfed by the city’s.
Legendre has his eye on Columbia University for graduate school, so whether he’s helping athletes succeed in the hills of New England or pushing through a bustling sea of numbers in New York, one thing is clear – his road ahead is full of exciting opportunities.