“You can’t be with others well if you don’t understand what’s going on inside of you.”
Clarisa Paschall, a senior Psychology major and self-proclaimed “psychology geek,” discovered her passion for social psychology during her freshman year at Taylor.
Since then, Paschall has become increasingly captivated with the relational aspects of psychology and the ways in which an individual’s “inner world” influences the people around them.
“So much of what we’re called to is a relationship; there’s this beautiful calling in the Bible to be with others well — to bring parts of heaven down on earth,” Paschall said. “Psychology for me is a way I’ve found to partner (with the Holy Spirit) in my own sanctification, while helping others do that as well.”
Paschall’s inspiration for pursuing social psychology stems from the encouragement of friends and faculty who have taken the time to invest in a relationship with her. Paschall remembers one upperclassman who took Paschall under her wing freshman year and invested in her more intentionally than others had in the past.
“I got to know who I was through that relationship in a deeper way than I ever had,” Paschall said. “I’d never had someone so interested in my story.”
Several professors have also come alongside Paschall during her time at Taylor to mentor her in various ways. Each of these individuals affirmed to Paschall the importance of interpersonal relationships — demonstrating what intentional community can look like at Taylor, and encouraging Paschall to proactively pursue similar relationships with those around her.
As a result of the positive mentorship roles others played in her life, Paschall has intentionally done the same for underclassmen on campus. Paschall consistently prays with and for these girls, and has found that the role of a mentor has allowed her to pursue her passion for social psychology in new ways.
“I love asking them questions and seeing ‘Okay, what’s the deeper thing going on here,’” Paschall said. “So for me, that’s connecting my passion for psychology with interpersonal flourishing in real-life, practical relationships.”
The past three summers, Paschall has also been able to explore social psychology by conducting various research projects for Taylor’s academic departments. Currently, Paschall is working alongside Psychology Professor Vance Maloney on an article which they hope to complete by the end of the semester.
“The article is called ‘Developing Globally Effective Souls,’ and it sprung from Vance Maloney’s passion for cultural development,” Paschall said. “We’re also working on a project right now that’s basically trying to create an effective program for an on-campus classroom course that develops undergrads culturally.”
As she nears the end of her senior year and begins anticipating life after Taylor, Paschall has started submitting applications to various graduate programs in the hopes of pursuing a PhD in social psychology. After graduate school, Paschall envisions herself teaching at a college-level, while possibly pursuing her long-standing dream of participating in a TED Talk.
However, even as she embraces her ambitions, Paschall acknowledges that up until recently she was ashamed of them.
“I’ve had to grow into my own level of ambition, because I used to be ashamed of it,” Paschall said. “I think it was just indwelled in me: this idea that you can’t be big.”
Paschall struggled with feelings of uncertainty until December of her junior year, when her dad affirmed her ambition —– reminding her that ambition itself is not a negative thing.
This verbal affirmation destroyed much of the shame Paschall had associated with her ambition, and has given her the freedom to pursue the passions God has placed on her heart.
“I had such enormous ambition in me that I didn’t know was okay, but that I’m now finding is God-given,” Paschall said. “(I’m finding that) I don’t have to be small to follow God either. He doesn’t call us to be tiny —– he calls us to be humble.”