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A 'pipe dream' no more

In a split second that melded decades of doubt and disappointment into a single moment of clarity and conviction, Adam Ramsey '18 saw the pieces of his life neatly fit together. For the 30-year-old psychology major, it was an "ah-ha" moment of overwhelming joy, self-assurance and grit that mobilized him to take immediate action.

A Stumbling Start

Photo of Adam Ramsey by poster"After graduating from high school, I went to a prestigious liberal arts college in Ohio," explained Ramsey. "I was there for three years but wasn't really focused on what I wanted for a major or a career. As a result, I left college before graduation.

"As a child who always said he wanted to be a scientist when he grew up, I was quite lost when things didn't work out at my first college. At that point, I assumed becoming a scientist was simply the pipe dream of a kid who didn't know anything about higher education," he admitted.

"I spent seven years in the workforce before deciding it was time to finish my degree," Ramsey noted. "I came into BW as a married, 27-year-old, first-generation college student. My plan was to study psychology and then transition into a human resource position at my workplace.

His Future Revealed

"At BW I found that the combination of my older, more experienced self and the exceptional faculty made for a perfect match," believes Ramsey. "The relationships I forged with the psychology faculty were critical to my success at BW and for my preparation at graduate school.

"I can't even imagine how many hours I've spent in conversation with the psychology faculty - picking their brains for advice, perspective or for extra information on a research topic. They always pushed me to exceed my own expectations and challenged me in many ways to expand my skill set. In meeting those challenges, I was afforded many opportunities to gain hands-on experience," said Ramsey.

As for Ramsey's "ah-ha" moment, it happened during a conversation with department chair and professor Dr. Jennifer Perry. Ramsey recalls telling her he once dreamed of getting a doctorate but felt that it was just a pipe dream. It was poignant when instead of merely nodding and moving on in the conversation, Perry told him, "You need to face it, Adam. You're a scientist."

"In that moment, all of the dreams I had as a child came flooding back and made me think, 'If she believes I can do it, I should listen.' After that conversation, I resolved myself to work harder than I ever had before," he said with conviction.

The payoff was sweet and swift. Within two years of that conversation, Ramsey graduated with a perfect 4.0 from Baldwin Wallace.

Acceptance to Vanderbilt

Last fall, Ramsey began applying to doctoral programs in cognition and cognitive neuroscience. He went on several interviews and basked in the joy of seeing his dream moving forward. In March, he heard back from Vanderbilt University, a top-20 program that was his dream school. He was accepted into the doctoral program, where he will be working on developing models of human judgment, decision-making, reasoning and memory.

"It's easy to write off your greatest dreams as being unattainable or unrealistic," acknowledged Ramsey. "Sometimes as you age, those dreams fade and become simply one's fairy tale of what could have been. For me, seeing my dream coming true reminds me that it's never too late to learn, to improve and to work towards the goals you set. Without the unwavering support of BW's psychology faculty and their belief in my potential, I most certainly would not be where I am today."

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