2017 Student Essay Winner Matthew Wheeler

2017 SEC Winner Matthew Wheeler

2017 SEC Winner
Matthew Wheeler

2016 SEC Winner Paloma Marinelarena

Dr. Don Lucas, the Man Who Gave Me a Path and Led Me Down It

After living on my own for over a decade and with more than 50 addresses under my belt, I was nearly 26 years old and no closer to describing my future than I when I was 16. For all my travels and all my troubles, I could not find the vocabulary necessary to portray what it was I wanted to do with my life. I made a decision at that point in time to take a gamble and just jump into college, hoping the man who came out the other side was closer in character to the one I saw in my head. I would dare to say it was the best decision of my life, and I truly have one man to thank for that.

A week before classes started, I had the bright idea to interview professors from various departments to help me decide upon my major. As fate would have it, the moment I walked into the psychology department offices, I quite literally bumped into Dr. Donald Lucas. Even though he obviously was leaving for the day, he agreed to sit with me for five minutes and help me out. I did my best to describe how I wanted to make an impact in the world around me, and he uttered three words that set me on the path I am on today: “Industrial Organizational Psychology,” the concept of using a methodical, psychological approach toward how businesses and organizations operate and can improve. The ability to facilitate positive change in business and government was a key feature of study within the field and it was everything I wanted for myself.

Had we stopped there, Dr. Lucas would have already played a significant role in my life, but that is not Dr. Lucas’s style. Even when I was a freshman, he took me under his wing, involving me in his research and introducing me to the field. I am happy to say that we are presenting our first study together at the South Western Psychological Association this spring. It is because of his suggestion, and occasional gentle nudge, that I am a member of all three honors societies here at Northwest Vista College, two of which I am a presiding officer. Even further still, he has made a huge point to help me start developing a social network, introducing me to professors and department heads of other schools, as well as researchers whom I very well may be working with in the future.

More than any other reason, I want to honor Dr. Lucas because I am not the only the only student he has watched over. In the 20 years that he has been the head of the psychology department at Northwest Vista College, he has helped dozens of young individuals into their future careers and beyond, and has worked diligently to build a network of former students that will ensure the success of his future students.