Tamara Markgraf '04
I came to Edgewood with an Associate degree in Liberal Studies, graduated from Edgewood with a BS in Psychology in 2004, and after graduation went on to obtain a Master's degree in Business Administration from Cardinal Stritch. I found that the MBA was a perfect complement to my Psychology degree by continuing to expand my understanding of the people and processes around me. I found that Edgewood had prepared me perfectly for the required graduate coursework and I was able to opt out of prerequisites while concentrating on required coursework.
HOW I DECIDED ON A PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR
I didn't start out with the intention to study Psychology. I was originally hoping to become a nurse. As I attended classes a clear interest evolved around classes focused on the world around me, teaching me about the people I interact with every day. This evolving interest continually led me to back to Psychology coursework, and eventually a change in my goal.
WHAT I’M DOING NOW
I am the Research Program Manager of the Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (Wisconsin ADRC), previously the Wisconsin Comprehensive Memory Program (WCMP). The Wisconsin ADRC is a team of researchers focused on aging, cognition and Alzheimer's disease (AD). Our program is truly comprehensive, covering bench, imaging, prevention, and treatment research.
The major focus of the Wisconsin ADRC, and perhaps the most significant characteristic of this program, is to identify novel diagnostic tests and potential therapies for the prevention of AD at a stage when patients have no clinical symptoms (preclinical stage). It is believed that the onset of disease precedes clinical symptoms by 20 years. It is anticipated that such therapies will help reduce the burgeoning number of individuals projected to suffer from AD.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED AT EDGEWOOD THAT I'VE BEEN ABLE TO APPLY SINCE GRADUATING
Every class, every professor, and every student I encountered along the way has taught me something about the world around me, and about myself. These encounters have changed me. I find that I have a drive to make a difference in the world around me. My favorite area of study at Edgewood was Biological Psychology. This is the coursework that covers biological foundations of behavior, emotions, and mental processes. In my position at the UW, I have been an integral part of starting up the UW/VA Brain Bank. Managing the Brain Bank constantly draws on my Psychology degree. I find myself utilizing counseling skills while working with families in crisis; I recall anatomy and Biological Psychology classes while working in the morgue cutting and freezing tissues, and I have also had a chance to use the research methods taught to me while conducting my own research (which I will present in Austria this summer).
THE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE I'D GIVE CURRENT PSYCHOLOGY MAJORS TO MAKE THE MOST OF THEIR EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AT EDGEWOOD
A degree in Psychology is much more than it may appear. There are so many ways to utilize a degree in Psychology. Let it take you where your interest lies, and go with it. The key to success with any degree is to follow your interest!
WHAT PSYCHOLOGY MAJORS CAN DO OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM TO PREPARE FOR THEIR CAREERS
There are opportunities at UW, MATC, and Edgewood to work in any field. Find a mentor who is in a position that you see as a possibility for yourself in the future and meet with them. Request to work with them; many campuses are thrilled to have unpaid volunteers in their program or offer student hourly positions. (These make excellent resume builders!) While you are on staff, evaluate what you see and determine if it is actually what you would like to do. You might find that you were right, or like me, you might find that you were way off and need to start rethinking your path. We are in a city with so many opportunities; use them to make your decisions with your eyes open.