Ellen Webb enrolled at IUPUI as a pre-nursing major because she knew completing that degree could mean a long and stable career. It was never necessarily a career she was excited about or even felt was a good fit for her, but she figured it was her only option. Her background had led her to believe that she just needed a degree in something “practical,” not necessarily a degree in something of interest. While a nursing career is a great option for those who truly want to be a nurse, it wasn’t what Ellen wanted, and therefore, her grades suffered.
As a high-achieving student in high school, Ellen had no doubts about her educational abilities until after her first semester at IUPUI was complete, and she was notified of her academic probation. Within her first year (or first two semesters) Ellen’s GPA suffered, and she was academically dismissed from the university.
However, being dismissed from the university does not mean that you can never come back. As part of her petition for reinstatement, Ellen had to prove that this time was going to be different. She had to show that she was going to make big changes, and that she was not going to come back just to fail again. Therefore, Ellen decided that if she was accepted again, she was going to change her major to something that she cared about—psychology.
Ellen had always been fascinated by the brain and chose nursing as a major with the hopes of getting to study the brain. She enjoyed and excelled in her previous psychology classes, and even took more advanced psychology courses in high school for fun and because she found the subject interesting. However, based on her family’s worries about not being able to find stable employment and the stereotypes about psychology being a useless degree, Ellen initially steered away from majoring in psychology. When returning, she researched career options with a psychology degree and decided that she was going to prove to those around her and to herself that if she put in the work, she could be successful. Ellen completed the reinstatement process the following summer and was successfully reinstated by the next fall semester with a new degree plan of a Bachelor’s in Psychology. “It felt like a fresh start to me.”
Ellen boasts that her awesome support system helped her to be successful the second time around and says, “I haven’t met anyone here who doesn’t want me to succeed.” A community of people encouraged and cheered for her along the way, including her family and all those who mentored her at the university. Ellen says that one of her biggest pieces of advice for incoming students is to “get to know your advisors and faculty and don’t be afraid to go to them for help, they want to help you.” She formed a great relationship with her advisor, Martha Marshall, who helped her throughout her entire career at IUPUI and introduced her to career consultant, Keely Floyd. Keely worked with Ellen in making the decision to change her major to psychology and helped her to understand that she could use a degree in psychology as the foundation for many different career options. She also reassured Ellen that the stereotype for psychology being a “useless” degree was simply not true. Ellen soon discovered a passion for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy after realizing that she already had experience from loving to work with her younger brother who has a behavioral disorder. Ellen had never before connected the dots between her role as a caring sister and a potentially meaningful career in ABA therapy.