Meet Fall 2016 Graduate Rachel Monahan

Rachel Kelly Monahan graduated with a B.S. in Psychology. She came to Georgia Tech from Woodstock High School, Woodstock, Georgia. She’s off to nursing school in Birmingham, Alabama.

What attracted you to study in Georgia Tech? How did Georgia Tech meet your expectations?

Growing up in Georgia, I was encouraged to remain in-state in order to receive Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship. I was drawn to Georgia Tech because of its academic rigor and reputation. I wanted to attend Georgia Tech because it had one of the best biomedical engineering programs in the nation. I was attracted to the beautiful campus in the heart of Atlanta. When I toured Georgia Tech as a high school student, I instantly felt a sense of belonging and knew that I wanted to attend college in this challenging environment.

Georgia Tech has met all of my expectations. I have grown as a person and a leader. I have received an invaluable education that has prepared me for all my future endeavors, and I have made friendships that will last for years to come.

What is the most important thing you learned while at Georgia Tech?

The most important things I learned were to appreciate others’ differences and to never give up when the workload seems impossible. Georgia Tech is an extremely diverse community, and I have learned to respect and appreciate individual differences because they make us unique and allow each of us to make distinct contributions in our relationships, academics, leadership roles, and careers.

On many occasions, I was extremely stressed from studying for exams and completing assignments that were scheduled in the same week. However, my education at Georgia Tech has prepared me immensely for my future career and has made me a well-rounded individual.

What surprised you the most at Georgia Tech? What disappointed you the most?

As a freshman, I was most surprised by how challenging my introductory math and science courses were. The average Georgia Tech student received straight A’s in high school, and most could get those grades without studying! Everyone here is incredibly intelligent and driven. Failing my first exam in Calculus II awakened me to the rigor of this institution.

What disappointed me the most was feeling as though for a few courses making good grades was unattainable.

Which professor(s) or class(es) made a big impact on you?

Dr. Jenny Singleton made the largest impact on me. My first psychology course was Human Development, taught by Dr. Singleton. This course is one of my favorite psychology courses, and it solidified my decision to pursue a degree in psychology. What I learned in this course will be extremely helpful as I continue my education in nursing school.

I also worked with Dr. Singleton as an undergraduate research assistant. I grew immensely as a student, researcher, analyst, and communicator by working under her guidance. I have thoroughly enjoyed having her as a professor and mentor, and I know the skills that I gained by working with her will be applicable in my future career.

What is your most vivid memory of your time at Georgia Tech?

My most vivid memory is being in the student section in Bobby Dodd Stadium during the 2015 Georgia Tech versus Florida State University (FSU) game. At that time, FSU was undefeated. With six seconds remaining in the game, Georgia Tech blocked FSU’s field-goal attempt and ran 78 yards to score the game-winning touchdown. At the end of that game, the students rushed to the field. It was surreal to be on the field in Bobby Dodd at that moment

In what experiential learning activities did you participate? What was the most valuable outcome of your experience?

I participated in undergraduate research in Dr. Singleton’s Visual Language Laboratory and studied in Europe on the Oxford Summer Program. Both experiences allowed me to grow tremendously as a person.

As an undergraduate research assistant, I learned how to conduct a research study from start to finish, how to be a better team member, how to communicate effectively, how to analyze data and make conclusions from that information, and how fascinating research with American Sign Language can be.

While on the Oxford Summer Program, I experienced the richness and diversity of many countries in Europe and the United Kingdom, and I learned to value the uniqueness of other cultures.

What advice would you give to incoming freshmen at Georgia Tech? 

Get outside your comfort zone and always remember that you are far more valuable than the grades you receive.

What feedback would you give to Georgia Tech leaders, faculty, and/or staff to improve the Georgia Tech experience for future students?

I would encourage Georgia Tech leaders, faculty, and staff to promote a more positive learning experience. Georgia Tech has a reputation for being one of the best institutions in the nation, but it also has a negative reputation for being too challenging or rigorous. Many of my peers consistently discuss failing class averages on exams in their courses, and they rely on their grade in a class to be curved in order to pass.

While I agree that students should be challenged in their academics, I think consistently failing students on exams that are above the level of material taught in class to uphold a reputation is missing the students’ purpose, which is to receive an excellent education.

I would encourage those in leadership to reform how some courses are taught and structured in order to make education a more uplifting and a rich learning experience.

Where are you headed after graduation? How did your Georgia Tech education prepare you for this next step?

I will be attending the University of Alabama, Birmingham, and enrolling in their Accelerated Master’s in Nursing Pathway Program to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse practitioner. My psychology degree from Georgia Tech has prepared me for the rigor of nursing school by providing me with a strong foundation in science, teaching me how to conduct and execute research, and giving me valuable insight into human behavior and mental processes—which will help tremendously when I, as a nurse, provide care to my future patients.