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Taking the Summer Challenge

Shannon Bennett is teaching psychology to high school students as part of BU’s Summer Challenge Program

Shannon Bennett, a graduate student in the clinical psychology doctorate program, is teaching psychology to high school students as part of Boston University’s Summer Challenge Program, which offers rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors a two-week preview of college life and coursework in a non-credit setting. Students live in BU dorms and take two seminar classes that meet two hours a day for nine days – the equivalent of 6-8 weeks of a regular college course.

 “The program gives high school students the opportunity to first leave home and see what college is all about,” said Bennett. “It helps remove a lot of the anxieties students usually experience about college life, such as what dormitories are like, living with a roommate, and, importantly, discovering that they can make new friends.” 

The program also gives students the chance to expose themselves to new fields of study that they may not encounter in high school but which may influence their decisions when applying to colleges.  Bennett herself is an example of the impact that classes like these can have on a student. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to take a psychology course in high school that “sparked my interest in psychology and led to choosing psychology as my major in college.”  The bit of knowledge of the field of psychology that she gained from that class strongly influenced the course of her academic career, and she feels that her class could affect Summer Challenge students similarly. 

Bennett heard about the program last year and decided to get involved to gain teaching experience.  She hopes to someday teach undergraduate psychology at a school where she could do research simultaneously.  “Also,” she said, “I very much enjoy interacting with adolescents and so it’s personally fulfilling.” 

In addition to her work with Summer Challenge, Bennett is a research fellow in the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University.