Finding community and choosing to major in Psychology at Mount Holyoke
“I really liked being exposed to Mount Holyoke’s classroom environment.”
A little tired from an early morning riding session at the Equestrian Center, Eleanor Lynn-Manns talked about how she found a sense of community at Mount Holyoke that she had not known before.
Lynn-Manns is originally from Cambodia and was adopted at an early age, living most of her life in New Mexico before moving to Oberlin, Ohio. She was homeschooled through her high school years.
Attracted to Mount Holyoke because of its sense of community — and the studiousness of its student body — Lynn-Manns had to adjust to a school environment with structured classes and other students.
“I was homeschooled,” she said, “so I was self-based, and my day was shaped by myself. That was very different from being in a classroom setting with other students and teachers. But all the same, I really liked being exposed to Mount Holyoke’s classroom environment.”
For the psychology major, one further benefit of Mount Holyoke’s celebrated classroom experience was the frequent focus on discussion.
“I was nervous to speak in class initially. I suppose I still am,” she said. “But since there is so much discussion in upper-level seminars and courses in psychology, I’ve become much more comfortable.”
“My favorite class was also my most challenging.”
In addition to the newness of the learning environment, Lynn-Manns also faced the challenge of building a community of friends on campus — a challenge which was made more difficult by the pandemic that sent her and most of her class away from campus for her sophomore year.
“I do well academically,” she said, “but it took time to find my group of people, especially when we were online for my sophomore year. It took till my junior year to find a group of people I had a lot in common with.”
It was an introduction to Mount Holyoke’s Jewish Student Union, through an introductory “learn Shabbat” session, that piqued her interest. She really liked the group’s leaders and its sense of fun and welcoming nature.
“I found a group of people to hang out with, to have fun with. We had something in common,” Lynn-Manns said.
As for her major, Lynn-Manns points out that she “chose the best one.”
Her interest in psychology is based in part on coming to understand her own issues with Auditory Processing Disorder, which often challenges an individual’s ability to process heard speech and sounds. APD, Lynn-Manns said, is not fully understood, and she is interested in finding new approaches to address both it and Autism Spectrum Disorder, which often overlaps with APD in terms of how it presents itself.
According to Lynn-Manns, “My goal is to pioneer a different type of therapy/treatment for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Auditory Processing Disorder. This is because the current treatment is applied behavioral analysis, and for people with ASD, this is basically telling them to not be autistic or have any autistic characteristics. It is important to me to advocate for people with ASD and APD. I want to make it so we have a voice in the world and that we do not have to conform to what society might expect us to do.”
Her interest in psychology also spurred Lynn-Manns to take on leadership roles in the MHC Psychology Association, a student-run organization in which she is both secretary and web and media designer. Additionally, her summer 2022 Research Experience for Undergraduates internship at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, gave her valuable insights into the methods and practices of large-scale research projects. It also convinced her she wanted to move in a different direction in her career — counseling.
The psychology department also provided her with her favorite class in her four years at Mount Holyoke. In taking Autobiographical Memory, Identity, and Emotion with Melissa Burch, visiting associate professor of psychology and education, Lynn-Manns gained further insights into her personal challenges with APD.
“My favorite class was also my most challenging,” she said.