Hayfield native named top undergrad psychology student in Minnesota
Every year, one undergraduate, from colleges and universities across Minnesota is honored as the top psychology student.
This year, Kristen Eggler, a 2015 graduate from Hayfield High school, received the honor.
The Gustavus Adolphus College senior honors psychological science major, was recently named the 2019 winner of the Donald G. Paterson Award in Psychology by the Minnesota Psychological Association.
The Paterson Award recognizes and encourages high achievement in psychology at the undergraduate level and is given to an outstanding college senior planning a career in psychology. Each college in Minnesota nominates one senior student for the award every year and the award is given based on evidence of superior achievement in psychology and other areas of study, potential for further work in the field of psychology, and personal characteristics and attributes.
Eggler, explained that she first became interested in psychology while she was a senior at Hayfield High School, and has had a passion for it ever since.
“I became interested in psychology my senior year of high school after reading several different popular psychology books and biographies of famous psychologists and have fallen in love with the field more and more every day since then! Every day in classes I learn new information about how people develop,how they can grow, and how amazing our minds are at doing just about everything,” Eggler said.
For Eggler, she feels honored to receive the prestigious award.
“It’s an honor to be identified as someone who can make a difference in the field of psychology in the future,” said Eggler.
“The Gustavus psychological sciences department is phenomenal,” Eggler added, noting how faculty members are both challenging and supportive. “Studying human behavior is applicable to nearly every scenario you encounter in life, and I’ve loved every minute.”
Her psychological science honors research project focuses on how motivational factors improve creativity and performance. By studying how factors such as autonomy and positive affect impact productivity and creative output, businesses and other organizations can learn to improve the employee experience and maximize employee efficiency.
One of Eggler’s professors, explained that she has perspectives in the classroom, and has a broad background in research.
“Kristen has a broad background in research and brings a well-read perspective to the classroom,” psychological science professor Marie Walker said, noting that Eggler’s participation in the College’s Three Crowns Curriculum helps inform her interdisciplinary approach. “She’s very articulate and takes a non-judgmental approach that takes people's’ various perspectives into account.”
Eggler, is also pursuing a management minor at Gustavus, and is currently applying to graduate schools to study industrial and organizational psychology.
Outside of the classroom, she is deeply involved in the Gustavus community. A member of the Chapel Choir and Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority, she has also served as a Collegiate Fellow resident hall advisor and Nobel Conference host.
While she was worried, at first that she would be at a disadvantage coming from a small town, Eggler explained that in some ways it actually became an advantage especially when it came to managing her time while participating in many activities.
“As a small town girl, it's a huge honor to win this award! In high school I was worried that being from a small town would put me at a disadvantage because I didn't have all the same opportunities as students from bigger schools, but I think being from a small town actually had amazing advantages. I was able to try everything and be a part of as many organizations as I wanted. This gave me the skills to manage a busy schedule, to prioritize my passions, and to be responsible for controlling my future and goals,” Eggler said.
After graduate school, she plans to pursue a career in research and consulting, with the goal of helping organizations build healthy work cultures.
For Eggler she hopes that her winning the very honorable award, will show other small town kids, that they can one day do anything that they want to do in life.
“I hope other small town students know that they too can go out and do great things and to take pride in their hometown,” Eggler said.