Christine Odenath

The University of Texas at Austin, Master of Arts candidate


Master of Arts candidate, The University of Texas at Austin
Post-Baccalaureate Studies, University of Pennsylvania ‘17
Bachelor of Arts in English, Colgate University ‘12

After five years of working in marketing consulting and social media strategy, Christine Odenath found her calling in educational psychology through her clients. “I was at a startup doing data analytics for Disney and Nickelodeon. I was fascinated with the idea of creating educationally-based social media content that could impart wisdom to the millions of young eyes these brands reach. That inspired me to take the next step and start looking into master’s programs.”

To prepare for the application process, Christine knew she needed to bolster her academic psychology background. Looking for a program that offered flexibility for her busy work life in Manhattan, Christine found that Penn’s Post-Baccalaureate Studies (post-bacc) program offered the opportunities and courses she was seeking. In her words, “I just liked the vibe at Penn. My dad grew up in Philadelphia, so I heard how great Penn was since childhood. He was right. I loved my experience.”

Christine recalls, “I started off with two basic classes—abnormal psychology and developmental psychology. The latter solidified my path toward childhood and educational psychology. I took both courses in the evening and many of my classmates were working professionals. They had such varying experiences to contribute to the discussions. I feel like I learned more than I would have if I had taken these same courses as an undergraduate.”

Christine then enrolled in a statistics course and volunteered with Professor Deena Weisberg at the Cognition and Development Lab. “I knew I needed to get research experience to be a strong candidate for a master’s program in psychology.” She continues, “I reached out to Deena because I saw her research interests were in learning processes, imagination and math learning and I thought it would be a good fit. She got back to me quickly and said, ‘absolutely.’ I built a great relationship with her, and she wrote one of my letters of recommendation for grad school.”

In the spring of 2017, after two semesters of courses and one summer semester of volunteer lab research, Christine started the graduate school application process. She was admitted to The University of Texas at Austin’s School Psychology program—a two-year master’s and specialist degree that is linked to the school’s PhD program, which she intends to pursue. Though commuting between New York and Philadelphia was challenging at times, Christine looks back and adds, “It was so worth it.”

For future post-bacc students preparing for graduate school, she advises, “You can take as many or as few courses as you want. You can invest in the classes you want. I recommend getting to know your professors and listening to perspectives of your fellow students to make the most of your time. I would not have been a good candidate for the programs I applied to if I had not taken courses at Penn.”

And as for her future, Christine notes, “I’m excited to dive in and absorb as much as I can the same way I did in my post-bacc studies at Penn. I’m approaching it with such a different life experience than a lot of colleagues in my cohort. I want to learn as much as I can from faculty and peers alike.”

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