It literally took one day on the campus of Western Carolina University for Madison Surrett to realize it was the place for her.
Upon transferring to WCU for her sophomore year after spending one year at a private school in Georgia, Surrett was nervous about coming to Cullowhee. Having felt unaccepted and out of place at her previous school, Surrett didn’t know what to expect.
But on her first day on campus, a fellow student immediately came up to Surrett and started talking to her. Surrett has felt at home ever since.
“I knew right then and there that it was going to be different,” she said. “It’s been an incredible experience. Western has provided me with more opportunities than I could’ve ever imagined, and allowed me to take advantage of those opportunities in social settings, in research, in education and just feeling like I am a part of Western. It’s definitely part of my identity now.”
Not only has Surrett, who is from Canton, found herself and flourished at WCU, but she plans to continue her education at WCU in the clinical psychology master’s program with hopes of continuing into the doctor of psychology program.
Surrett has been interested in psychology since high school. As a freshman in college, she was convinced to change her major to business, but quickly changed back to psychology when she got to WCU. She credits Ellen Sigler, associate professor in the Department of Psychology, for the switch.
“I knew right then and there that it was going to be different,” she said. “It’s been an incredible experience.
“I dug in full force,” Surrett said. “I got to be a part of groups. I met with my professors to make sure they knew who I was. I love psychology. As cheesy as it sounds, I’ve always wanted to be able to help people.”
Surrett teamed with Sigler for a couple of research projects, one of which aimed at seeing if individuals with disabilities felt their integration in the community was being served. The research was presented at the Southeastern Psychological Association and the National Conference for Undergraduate Research.
She later did clinical research involving electroencephalogram (EEG) analysis, which was presented at the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association in Colorado.
Surrett eventually would like to work in a Veterans Affairs hospital specializing in post-traumatic stress and substance use disorder.
“I’ve wanted to do that for a long time and we have a lot of opportunities here,” she said. “We have direct connections to the Veteran Administration Hospital in Asheville so I’ll hopefully get to do some internships there and start working with them. I’m very excited about that.”
While at WCU, Surrett was a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, the Undergraduates of Psychology Advisory Board, a psychology ambassador and a member of Psi Chi, a national honor society that advances the science of psychology. She also was a recipient of the John W. Ashe Endowed Scholarship.