Rebecca Ward ‘21: A Second Generation Aggie Psyched to Graduate
Rebecca Ward ‘21 is set to cross the graduation stage with a 4.0 GPA in just three years. As a psychological and brain sciences major, she’s psyched about the future.
By Mia Mercer ‘23
Rebecca Ward ‘21 was 8 years old when she fell in love with psychology. Growing up, she watched Brain Games and documentaries about the mind, asked for psychology books and magazines during the holidays and for birthdays, and whenever anyone asked what she wanted to be when she grew up she responded with “a psychologist.” Now, Ward is ready to graduate from Texas A&M University, one step closer to becoming the psychologist she always wanted to be.
Born and raised in New Braunfels, Texas, Ward is an Aggie senior psychological and brain sciences major with a minor in women’s and gender studies. Due to her determination to achieve academic excellence and the support of her family and professors, Ward is graduating a year early with a 4.0 GPA.
“To me the core of an Aggie is someone who cares about other people and wants to better themselves constantly,” Ward shared. “As a child all the way through my public education and through my Aggie experience, I was never willing to settle for mediocre or just acceptable; I always wanted to do my best whether that be academically, professionally, or with my personal relationships with other people. That’s how I embodied being an Aggie.”
When Ward was applying for colleges her senior year of high school, she knew she wanted to be an Aggie. Her mother had graduated from Texas A&M, so Ward knew Aggieland was where she would feel most comfortable and find a sense of community. She cried when she found out she’d been accepted to her dream school.
“Texas A&M is a university that runs on the dedication of its members,” Ward explained. “So many times professors would go above and beyond emailing late at night, providing flexible office hours, and chatting after class. You could always tell that professors put a lot of time and effort into their lectures and making sure that they found the right materials and resources to give students. Even though Texas A&M is a large university, I never felt like it was impersonal.”
Ward had completed a little over an academic year’s worth of college credits before enrolling at Texas A&M, so she began her undergraduate degree as a sophomore. She hit the ground running by getting involved in research and balancing her schedule. Ward said she is grateful for the support team she gained through the College of Liberal Arts, especially her professors, who helped her achieve her goals and endure the challenges of higher education.
Three professors made the biggest impact on Ward’s life in Aggieland. Rebecca Schlegel and Joshua Hicks from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences worked with her in the existential psychology collaboratory, while Tasha Dubriwny from the Department of Communication and the Department of Women and Gender Studies worked with Ward through an independent study, where they wrote a paper presented to the Southern State Communication Association (SSCA).
“Every single professor I had in the College of Liberal Arts were just absolutely wonderful, awesome people,” Ward said. “Those relationships with professors don’t just help you in the short term with getting the grade that you want in the course or even graduate and move on to the next phase of your life, but also you get to build a connection with some amazing people. That’s something that on a human level I really value.”
Ward’s praise for her professors is mutual among the faculty members she worked closely with as an undergraduate. One professor recognized Ward’s passion and ambition during Ward’s first semester on campus.
“Ward was the top student in the class, and she joined my lab, and then became my lab manager,” Schlegel said. “She has also been employed by the psychology department to help create modules for intro psychology that are focused on increasing student resilience and well-being. She is hard working, caring, and a great representative of the Aggie spirit.”
According to Ward, her greatest achievement in her college career was getting accepted into her social psychology Ph.D. program and continuing her studies at Texas A&M. She will start the five-year program in the fall working under Schlegel as a Ph.D. candidate.
“I feel like my getting into this program was the culmination of all of my work thus far,” Ward explained. “I made a point of being an honors student, worked hard academically to maintain my GPA, and I was involved in research, all of which are elements you need to acquire to do really well in a Ph.D. program.”
Throughout her time in Aggieland, Ward said she made amazing memories and developed relationships with people who helped her get to where she is today.
“I’m very excited to graduate, but I also think it’s bittersweet in that you know this stage of your life is coming to a close,” Ward said. “I can’t say that my education is over since I’m continuing on with a Ph.D., but the fact that the undergraduate time period of my life is over is the bittersweet element of it all. Still, I’m excited for the future.”