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University of Wisconsin-Superior
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Superior, WI 54880
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Devon Pfaff attended an arts high school. She was set on becoming an art therapist.
Then Monticello, MN, native attended UW-Superior -- and unleashed her Superior Side.
"Art has been such a vital part of my existence," she said. "Then I discovered I was meant to explore the brain, the body and behaviors. That was a major transition." But a good one, she says. "It's definitely the right choice for me."
Now, Pfaff is on track to graduate cum laude with a psychology major and global studies minor. She has worked as a research assistant, office assistant and tour guide. She formed personal and professional connections on campus. Now she looks forward to earning a masters degree in industrial organizational psychology -- something her artist self might have found intimidating.
Pfaff had already ruled out pursuing visual art when a high school counselor suggested UW-Superior's art therapy program. As she worked her way through the program, she realized she'd completed all the psychology requirements and wanted to learn more.
Pfaff's transformation from artist to analyst crept up on her gradually. "I asked for some advice from close friends who know me quite well. It's actually funny because I'd been thinking about it and thinking about it.
"I was going in for an exam in my abnormal psych class and I was reciting my study notes to my friend, because that's how I learn, I repeat information out loud again and again. And she says to me, 'you need to switch majors. This is what you are meant to do.' It kind of solidified the decision so I went for it, and I'm glad I did."
In her job as a campus tour guide, it's Pfaff's job to describe what it's like to attend UW-Superior, where all students -- even professionally focused ones -- learn to see the world in wider focus.
"It means building a foundation not just in the topic you're studying, but creating a widespread understanding through different lenses, different classes, and really understanding different perspectives of the same topic," she says. "It means knowing how to investigate different topics you've never been exposed to."
Pfaff says Dr. Eleni Pinnow psychology classes are a good example of what it's like to study at UW-Superior. "The psychology program is not about memorization. It's not just about 'you just have to know this.' It's critical thinking. I've learned to think a different manner. You can memorize all you want but if you don't understand what it means, it doesn't get you very far."
It makes one wonder: what might Devon the Tour Guide have said if she could have led Devon the Artist around campus a few years ago? "I'd break it down and say it's not about painting. It's about thinking. It's about building a foundation of understanding, and not just in one field, or one idea, or one lens, but in a variety of areas. And thank goodness for that or I would never be where I am now."
Devon toured "five or six" schools but settled on UW-Superior. "It was really just the right fit. I felt comfortable and I could see myself here," she says. "I'm very, very glad I went here versus a large school. There's no way I could have gotten the same opportunities at a bigger school that I have here. It's also nice to be able to say 'Hey, I know you' and 'I know you.' You don't feel like you're just one of a million students."
Another factor in her choice: she says UW-Superior is "just far enough away. It's far enough away from home that I could go do my own thing, but if I wanted to go home to mom and dad I could, because it's only a couple of hours away."
Schedule a campus visit and see how UW-Superior will help unleash your Superior Side.
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