Caroline Eastman

Armstrong paves way to Future Learning

In her last semester at Armstrong Atlantic State University, psychology student Caroline Eastman earned not just the Dr. Stu Worthington Award for outstanding achievement by a senior psychology student, but also a five-year full tuition waiver to attend the Tufts University’s psychology graduate program, which will allow Eastman to pursue both her master’s and doctorate degrees.

The scholarship is valued at over $24,000 per-year and will include an additional $20,000 per-year stipend. Eastman also received a separate Tufts Provost fellowship of $5,000 for two years, which only 19 other incoming doctoral students received from the university.

“It was nice to see that all of my hard work over the past two years had not only paid off for me, but other people have appreciated and noticed,” Eastman said. “It was definitely a nice way to end my college career at Armstrong.”
Eastman consciously plotted her academic experiences at Armstrong to better prepare her for graduate school.  “I knew from my sophomore year on that I wanted to get my Ph.D.,” Eastman said. She began at Armstrong in the fall of 2006 and maintained a high GPA, participated in multiple research projects, and attended professional conferences. She managed to do this while holding down a part-time job. “I was just trying to be the best grad school applicant possible,” Eastman said.

Eastman, a native of Denver, Colo., has a true passion for cognitive psychology and related research. “I am excited about getting into Tufts, because I will get to work with two professors whose research on metacognition and spatial learning initially drew me to the program,” Eastman said.

While at Armstrong, she worked with Assistant Professor Brad Sturz on spatial learning research, which involved analyzing how animals and humans navigate an environment. The project studied how college students navigate virtual environments in video games. “We are using a computer with Xbox controllers and a first-person environment called Half-Life. The environment is programmed with specific rooms and tasks, which allows the participants to jump in a box or search for a certain corner,” Eastman said. “Cognitive psychology is not about abnormal functioning or fixing a problem. It’s more focused on internal mental processes, such as how we perceive and process information, form memories, think abstractly, speak and solve problems.”

After graduating from Tufts, Eastman plans to continue her work in cognitive psychology at a research institution and become a college professor. “I really like learning, and I like trying to get other people excited about learning,” Eastman said. “And I also like that professors are not just allowed to do research, but are encouraged to. Professors get the best of both worlds.”

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