Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

In Their Own Words

Students Talk About SURE 

"...for the first time in my life I got paid to do what I loved."

Nadia Velasquez, UT Austin

"Through the SURE program I was able to research under Dr. Rebecca Bigler in her Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab. Being a part of the lab for 2 months allowed me to assist with a variety of the ongoing projects and for the first time in my life I got paid to do what I loved.

In the lab I got the full experience of being a researcher by contributing to the development of research ideas all the way to helping in the writing and publishing stages of a paper. Working in the lab was a great because I got to work with and meet people who have the same passions as I do. Graduate students mentored me throughout the summer and by the end I had decided the area in psychology I would be going into, the list of schools and advisors I would be applying to and had my personal statement reviewed by a graduate student. I had never had a more productive and exciting summer in my life and wouldn’t trade the experience for anything."

“...I gained the ability and confidence to write and speak about ideas and think in a more scientific manner.”

Laura Gonzalez, Baylor U.

"I feel so appreciative to have been a part of the SURE program. It was the best experience I could have asked for. I knew I wanted to do research, but I had no real idea of what that entailed until I started working in Dr. Rebecca Bigler’s Gender and Racial Attitudes Lab. I learned more than anything that could be taught in a classroom. I was able to not only see a professor and graduate students at work, but I had the opportunity to research the literature and contribute to the formation of ideas and projects in the lab. There was also something so helpful and comforting about being with other students that had the same goals and passions that I do. Most of all I think I gained the ability and confidence to write and speak about ideas and think in a more scientific manner. I can even tell the difference in how I am approaching my classes this semester, with a hunger to learn and a critical eye.

I would not be nearly as prepared as I am to pick the right graduate school programs to fit my interests or know how to go about writing a personal statement or present a research proposal. If you know you want to do research this is a wonderful step in the right direction towards that goal.

“...I was able to gain exceptional insight into what graduate school is actually like.”

Tyler Watts, UT Austin

"The SURE program has been invaluable to me as I prepare to apply to graduate school. Through my interactions with faculty, graduate students, and other undergraduates with similar goals, I was able to gain exceptional insight into what graduate school is actually like. Because of the SURE program, I spent the summer thinking about what I wanted to study and the direction that I wanted to proceed in a way which I would have not been able to do without the help of the program. I really value the experience and I feel much more ready for what lies after undergrad than I did before."

“...working in the labs alongside some of the best researchers in the country.”

Shaney Flores, UT-PanAm

"Coming from an institution without a strong research base in cognitive science, the SURE Program allowed me to explore and gain opportunities I wouldn't have had at my home institution. The weekly seminars, guest speakers, and mentors all provided incredibly helpful tips, hints and insights on how to search for and apply to graduate programs.

The best feature though has to be working in the labs alongside some of the best researchers in the country. I was able to design, program and implement a behavioral experiment in the Preston Lab while also doing neuroimaging analysis and fMRI studies in the Mood Disorders Lab. I made connections with people and had experiences that are really going to help me in the long run. If I ever had doubts about what I wanted to do in graduate school, this program really helped me figure it out."

"Working with actual participants to conduct authentic research was a blast..."

Estelle Anuwe, Junior, Baylor U.

"I will never forget my time spent in the SURE program. It has by far been one of the best summers I have experienced. I was able to meet tons of amazing people and gain an immense amount of information about graduate school programs in psychology. Working with actual participants to conduct authentic research was a blast and an invaluable experience for anyone considering a future in research. The vast amount of knowledge that I was able to soak up while in this program will for sure put me at a great advantage — not only for applying to graduate school, but also for succeeding in any future endeavors I may plan to pursue. All in all, it was an amazing experience and I highly recommend this program to anyone considering a future in any field of psychology."

"Living the life of a researcher... "

Sonya Crocker, Senior, UT Austin

"Through the SURE program I was able to see research outside of the textbook. To give an analogy, it is the difference between reading about how to perform a surgery and actually cutting skin and tissue. Before SURE I did not know the logistics involved in creating and conducting a study or if I was going to like research. I also did not know the unconventional lifestyles of grad students and research psychologists.

In SURE, I had the opportunity to live the life of a researcher. I contributed ideas in lab meetings, conduct experiments alongside grad students, analyzed data, and partook in the monotonous but necessary (and at times interesting) component of research — data entry. Additionally, the weekly speakers gave us insight on the variety of research, programs, and careers available in psychology. By interning with SURE, I have gained invaluable knowledge, exposure, and skills and with this foundation I can better identify my interests and be more confident in the direction I will take in the future."

"A great learning experience..."

Sally Rochel, Senior, UT El Paso

"Being part of the SURE program was a great learning experience, I will definitely do it all over again! It allowed me to enhance my knowledge about  various graduate programs, and the application process. The guidance and support that the professors, mentors, and other graduate students give you is very valuable and helpful. I was able to get direct research experience and develop my own research project. I also had the opportunity to interact and learn from professionals from diverse areas within the field of psychology.  Before the program I was not sure about what I wanted to do, but this truly helped me define my interests and be more confident about the path I want to take."

 "An amazing experience..."

Kelly Banneyer, Sophmore, Rice University

"I am a rising senior psychology and cognitive sciences major from Rice University. During this past summer, I had an amazing experience and look into the world of the psychology graduate program through the SURE program at the University of Texas at Austin. I had the opportunity of working in both Dr. Christopher Beevers’s and Dr. Jamie Pennebaker’s labs this summer. I was able to actively participate in the research occurring in both labs as well as interacting with the graduate students in both labs. Before this summer, I thought that I had an idea about what to expect in graduate school and how to go about applying. However, it soon became apparent that there was much for me to learn. The weekly seminars provided through the SURE program allowed me to learn everything that I needed to know about applying to psychology graduate programs. I also had the opportunity of working with a graduate student mentor. With the help of my mentor, I selected the programs that I am most interested in applying, and I developed a template for my personal statement that will aid me when I am filling out applications. Overall I do not think that I would have been able to get this kind of experience from any other summer research program."

"Best summer experience of my life..."

Toni Wilson

"The SURE program was, without a doubt, the best summer experience of my life! It was not only  greatly informative, in regards to how to get into graduate school and what to expect after getting in, but also interesting and fun, with being able to meet and develop friendships with students from other universities. One of the most valuable things that I got out of this experience was being able to be hands-on with all of the steps that go into conducting a study from beginning (actually going out and collecting the data) to end (analyzing and writing a report about the data). Overall, this experience has helped me become more knowledgeable, confident, and excited about all the facets of graduate school."

"More than just an ordinary research assistant..."

Tracie Pulido

“Through the SURE Program I was able to gain more hands on experience in doing research. I felt as if I was more than just an ordinary research assistant. I was able to do more data collection, entry, and analysis on my own with guidance of my wonderful mentors. I definitely feel that I will have an edge up on anyone else applying for graduate school because if this experience. The SURE program proved to be an invaluable tool that I encourage anyone to seek."

“... one of the best decisions I could have made”

Tonantzin Juarez

"Participating in the SURE program was one of the best decisions I could have made. It not only allowed me to network with graduate students and professors but it also gave me a first hand experience as to how graduate school operates. I got to see different kinds of labs and research projects which made me realize that I want to pursue my Ph. D in Psychology. Our weekly meetings with professors and speakers from the various fields and departments were very helpful in guiding my decision to pursue a doctorate in the Social Psychology field of Psychology. They were also very helpful in guiding us through the Graduate School application process. Additionally everybody from professors, faculty and even graduate students were open in answering questions we had and even eager to listen to our research ideas."

“ cannot lose with this program!”

Patricia Moreno, Junior, UT

"The SURE program is a fantastic opportunity to get involved with research during the Summer and the included stipend conveniently covers your costs so that you can focus on gaining valuable experience. If graduate school is in your future, you cannot lose with this program!"

“ gives you experience”

Carlos Vargas, Junior, UT El Paso

"The SURE internship program is a great opportunity for students to learn more about the field of psychology and your future should you choose to continue on it. During the summer I had the opportunity to work in different labs with exceptional professors, graduate students and others that gave me a clear understanding of my future career options. Any student that plans to continue on a psychology degree should grab opportunities such as this one, it gives you experience and it helps you in the choices and challenges lying ahead. Great summer and a very unique experience."

“... a door of opportunity”

Melissa Flores, Senior, UT

"The SURE program was a door of opportunity into the research world.  Not only did I learn copious amounts of information about the subject I wanted to research (clinical/community psych).  I was able to make strong connections within the department at UT and in the outside world.  I felt that everyday at work I had a purpose, whether it was meeting with graduate students in the clinical program or contributing to research being done.  I was able to get experience doing a broad range of tasks including: project development, running participants, literature searches, and even working on manuscripts. I have truly enjoyed this worthwhile experience, and I now feel so much more prepared for graduate school."

“... helped me realize what I was suppose to do while applying to graduate school”

Ricardo Santos

“Being part of the SURE program has made me understand what it takes and what you need to get into graduate school. Weekly meetings in which professors told us all about the application process like what to do and what to avoid helped me realize what I was suppose to do while applying to graduate school.

A personal mentorship plan in which a graduate student matched with your own study interests shared their own experience in applying, getting into a good program, talk about general graduate life and help with any doubts concerning any aspect of graduate school is also part of the program. This helped me really understand what graduate school is like and what is expected from each student.  

Working in various laboratories was a very satisfying experience as I was running participants, entering data and analyzing it as well. All this was very closely supervised by graduate students and faculty members.

I believe this has helped me enormously in understanding what my long term goals are and how to pursue them.” 

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  • Department of Psychology

    The University of Texas at Austin
    SEA 4.208
    108 E. Dean Keeton Stop A8000
    Austin, TX 78712-1043