Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Before enrolling in the Summer Research Opportunities Program (SROP) in 2007, Courtney Cornick did not have The University of Iowa on her graduate school radar.

As a SROP student, Cornick met Elizabeth Altmaier, a UI professor of counseling psychology in the College of Education. Cornick, who studied forgiveness as an undergraduate at Iowa State University, spent that summer collecting data with Altmaier on racial differences in forgiveness.

Based on Cornick's data, Altmaier and Cornick collaborated on a paper they have submitted for publication. Cornick studied approximately 100 white and African-American residents in three major Iowa cities—Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. She found racial differences in forgiveness as a function of racial pairing of the victim and offender.

Most pairing combinations displayed less forgiveness the more significant the offense, except when an African-American was the victim and an African-American was the offender. Her data shows that this pairing combination showed more forgiveness the more significant the offense.

Cornick credits Altmaier for helping her complete this study.

"She's so committed and dedicated to mentoring students and helping them get work published. She really pushes you to take your own initiative," Cornick said. "My work with Dr. Altmaier was really helpful. We built a really great relationship together," Cornick added. "It helped me with the interview process for grad school. It also helped me get acquainted with the program here at Iowa. Iowa wasn't one of my choices for graduate school, but once I came through the (SROP) program I got to meet a lot of people and I thought it was fabulous."

But there was one catch: How would she be able to afford attending graduate school at Iowa?

Cornick solved that problem by winning a Dean's Graduate Fellowship. "Funding was a huge issue when applying to graduate school.

"Getting the Dean's Fellowship from the Graduate College made a graduate education possible for me," Cornick said. "I got a fellowship at another school as well, but the fellowship here is much better because of the benefits."

Cornick began her third year in the Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program this fall. Her coursework will include a year-long practicum at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, performing on-site assessments in neuropsychology. She feels confident as she steps into this next phase of her education, due in part to her positive experience as a SROP student.

"Without SROP, I don't know how well I would have done on the graduate school circuit," Cornick said.