GMercyU Psychology Alumna Katie McGuigan

Meet Katherine McGuigan

Psychology, 2016

Current Position: MSOT Student at GMercyU

Why I Chose GMercyU

When you think about Gwynedd Mercy University, there are many elements that come to mind.  Besides academics and extra-curricular activities, there is one aspect that the campus does focus on: family.  While attending Gwynedd Mercy University, you become part of the Mercy family, no matter where you work, or what you are studying on campus. That was one of the reasons I chose GMercyU for my undergraduate degree, as well as currently for my master’s degree.

I began my journey at Gwynedd Mercy University in 2012 when I enrolled to study Psychology.  I have always had a passion for helping people. I wanted to grasp an understanding of ways to help people who experience different emotions and reactions to life situations. GMercyU gave me the opportunity to not just succeed with education, but also with opportunities outside of the classroom.

GMercyU Experience

During my time at GMercyU, I became a member of different groups and organizations. As a commuter student, I wanted to become involved on campus, and not just take classes and go home. I wanted to create a name for myself on campus and gain more skills that would benefit me in the future.

I was involved in multiple clubs and organizations which included, the Voices of Gwynedd, Psychology Club, Psi Chi International Honor Society, etc. I had the great honor of holding leadership positions with all the above-mentioned organizations. I was very proud to have learned from past leaders and take what they instilled in us, as members, and create a name for us being the new chapter. 

During my senior year, I interned at my alma mater, Bishop McDevitt High School in Wyncote, Pa.  I worked in the high school guidance counseling program, which included talking to parents and students; sitting in on meetings with students; and being able to see what is required to be a high school guidance counselor.  

There were so many opportunities at GMercyU to go above and beyond the call of duty when it came to schoolwork and extra- curricular activities. I am so thankful for the opportunities that I had being the president of the organizations I belonged to, and for utilizing those skills in my educational life, as well.

Undergraduate Research

One of my favorite aspects of my Psychology journey was research. I was so intrigued by the research we were doing in class that I wanted to partake in my own independent study. I wanted to study if there was an influence of social media in romantic relationships and the effects that could come from it. 

My fellow Psychology students and I presented our findings at conferences within the school community, the neighboring collegiate institutions, as well as the Eastern Psychological Association Conference, which included studies from students all along the East Coast. Each of those experiences gave me more appreciation of what Psychology had to offer, and the possibilities that could occur after graduation.  

Post-Graduation Journey

I am proud to say that I graduated in 2016 with bachelor of science in Psychology. honors of Psi Chi International Honor Society, Cum Laude, and the Most Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award.

So, graduation has come and gone, and the question usually is asked:  What are you going to do now?  And I honestly was not sure.  I knew I wanted to go for my master’s degree, but the area of which I wanted to focus on was not yet set in stone.

While I was trying to figure out the most suitable place for me, I took some time away from academia, and decided to go into the workforce. I took on multiple roles in different areas to gain experience in all realms of employment. I was an office coordinator with many duties under my hat for a family-owned business. 

During that time, I was really considering going back to school, and was going back and forth on what I wanted the focus to be. At first, I had the interest to become a Child Life Specialist and work at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. However, after some reflection of being a cancer patient at the hospital myself, I decided to go another route since this was too close to my own personal experience.  

At that time, I took a step back from searching and left it in the hands of God on what would be a next step for me. I was also going through some personal struggles and needed to make sure that my mental and physical health could take on a new adventure. 

I was at a Voices of Gwynedd rehearsal and saw a friend that I went to class with as a Psychology major. As we were catching up, she had mentioned that she was back to GMercyU to receive her Master’s in Occupational Therapy. I was very intrigued about what she was doing because at the time of my own graduation, the Occupational Therapy department that is currently at Gwynedd Mercy University was in the beginning stages of development. 

After our conversation, I began researching and contemplating the opportunities and advantages that Occupational Therapy had to offer. When I was in the hospital with my cancer diagnosis, I received Occupational Therapy, and enjoyed the exercises and techniques that they shared to help me gain better strength for when I was discharged.

After much consideration, Occupational Therapy seemed like a good fit for me. The main goal in my life has always been to put the needs of other people first and give assistance wherever it is needed. I felt as though something was pulling me in that direction, and after a tour of the facilities that was created on campus for the Occupational Science and Therapy program, I absolutely fell in love with it.  

I felt as though another door was opening and calling me to come back to GMercyU and experience this new chapter. In the summer of 2019, I became more focused on what I needed to complete before applying for a position in the Occupational Therapy Program. I was lucky enough to take the Anatomy and Physiology courses on campus that I needed as prerequisites.  With excelling in both courses of lab and lecture, I was ready to finalize my application and hope for the best outcome.

It has always been said that things never come easy for the people who want it the most. I had applied for a position in GMercyU’s program for their Summer 2020 sessions. Unfortunately, I received the news that I was not accepted at the time into their program. I have always believed that God has a plan for everything, even if we do not understand the reasoning for it.

As upset as I was for not being accepted, I was also thinking that there was a reason that I was not accepted this time around.  During this time, the world was experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic. With being out of work myself from my (then) position as a sales associate at the Disney Store at the Philadelphia Premium Outlets, I was really pondering the idea if Occupational Therapy was the right fit for me. I did not want to give up, and that made me more motivated to work even harder for when the next application cycle opened. I wanted to become more educated and prepared the next time around and knock it out of the park.

With the new year bringing more hope than 2020 did, it was time for reapplication. I made sure that all my information was ready to submit before the dates they were due. I wanted to have enough time to mentally prepare myself for either outcome when it came to hearing good, or bad news from the institutions I applied to. Then one day, I was checking my email and saw that Gwynedd Mercy University wanted to invite me for an interview for their Master of Occupational Therapy Program. I was ecstatic! I was so happy to be given a chance and show the department what I could bring to the program.  

I interviewed for some other programs prior to GMercyU, and found myself feeling nervous and anxious.  But when it came to GMercyU’s interview, I felt very calm and comfortable just talking about how the Mercy tradition had influenced my education, and how I wanted to bring the teachings of Catherine McAuley into my future endeavors. I felt like the interview went well, and I was hoping for the best outcome.  

A few days had passed, and I received a phone call from Dr. Tom Mernar, the program director for GMercyU’s Occupational Therapy Department, personally inviting me into the program.  Hard work and prayers truly do pay off!  I was overwhelmingly excited and accepted the offer.  

I prayed for the opportunity to come back into a community where the values of service, integrity, social justice, and respect flourish on campus.  I am proud to be back as a Griffin, and I look forward to graduating with my Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy in 2023.