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Student Profiles


Carol Yacoub

Year: 2015
Hometown: Leesburg, VA
Major: Psychology

Why U.Va.?

I was looking for a college that would integrate my academic prowess, social needs, and individuality, which is exactly what UVA offered. I also wanted a university that I could make as large or as small as I wanted, and UVA’s medium size was perfect for that. My decision was greatly influenced by the reactions and advice I had received from alumni who had loved their experiences here. There was no other university that was spoken so highly of by everyone, and I believe that is because UVA caters to such a wide variety of people and their needs.

How would you describe U.Va. students in three words?

Inquisitive, motivated, involved

Describe your favorite memory from your first year at U.Va.

I had a prospective student visiting me, and after a long day of showing her around UVA, I came home to boxes of confetti-filled eggs (which are apparently a Latin American tradition) in my room. When I asked what they were, my roommate responded by throwing one at me, only to have it shatter on my head and fill my hair with confetti. The rest of the evening turned into our entire dorm having a confetti-filled egg war. When my prospective asked me if this is really what college is like, I responded with a simple, "yes."

What do you like about studying in the College of Arts and Sciences?

I am enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences, and my favorite thing is the wide range of academic interests encompassed by the school. Each student's interests are so different, and CLAS perfectly incorporates them all. I am free to take classes outside of my major and still have time to graduate in four years. Since each student in CLAS is studying something different, I love meeting students of all majors and learning about why they love studying their field.

What interests you intellectually?

I love learning about what motivates people. I have found that each person at UVA especially is extremely driven, and I am intrigued by the root of this motivation. I love having philosophical or deep talks with fellow students about life and what it means to them. I can learn a great deal about the nature of humans just by genuinely getting to know each person who is in my life.

How did you decide on your major?

I am a Psychology major. Coming into college, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in the health-sciences, but I knew I did not want to be a Biology major. I ended up taking very different classes my first-year in order to decide what interested me the most. I was intrigued by Psychology, since I got to learn about what in the brain made people act the way they did along with experiments that were done to prove these things. I figured that I could one day combine my love for Psychology and understanding of human behavior with patient-care in my career as a Dentist.

Have you traveled abroad as a student?

Last winter break I travelled with a group of UVA students to Costa Rica and Nicaragua on a dental and medical service learning trip with a non-profit organization called VIDA. We helped under-priviledged communities by setting up free clinics and treating individuals who could not ordinarily afford it. It was undoubtedly one of the most eye-opening experiences that not only made me more appreciative of my circumstances, but also inspired me to want to pursue a profession in Dentistry.

Are you planning on studying abroad as well?

I would love to study abroad in Valencia, Spain one day in order to improve my Spanish and also expand my horizons. I see a need in going outside of my comfort-zone in order to grow as an individual, and I think studying abroad is the perfect way to do that.

What challenges have you faced at U.Va.?

"College is the place where you find yourself." I have come to believe this more each day for the past two years of college. As a college student, I am given the chance to formulate my own beliefs freely, to try new things, and to meet whomever I choose. These freedoms have come with many challenges, however. Discovering who I am involves making lots of mistakes, which at times may be very challenging. It has been challenging to keep my integrity and not let others mold my values and beliefs.

What have you learned about yourself at U.Va.?

I've learned that it's 100% okay to make mistakes so long as I am able to learn from them and move on. Things don't always go accordingly, but my attitude means everything. By being positive and believing that things will work out for the best, I have learned to call my "failures" learning experiences and grow from them. My positive attitude can be used to help those around me by encouraging and motivating my peers when they are stressed or scared.

Have you been involved in research at U.Va.?

I work in a Psychology lab that studies Social Cognition and Behavior. We study how individuals develop competence in diverse spaces, and do lots of studies on stress in interracial groups and prejudice; our goal is to improve intergroup relations. I have worked in the lab for a year for Psychology college credit. My job is to run studies in the lab, distribute surveys, and code nonverbal data. Although I have enjoyed my experience, I would like to also work in a more independent lab where I can pose my own questions and seek an experiment that will help answer them.

About what activities are you passionate?

Almost every organization I am a part of at UVA gives back to the community in some way. For example, I recently rushed Alpha Phi Omega, which is a fraternity at UVA, in order to meet individuals with like-minded views on the importance of service. I was also part of Fashion for a Cause, which is a group of students who put on a fashion show, and afterwards the proceeds go to a cause. I find purpose and fulfillment in giving to those around me.

What has been your favorite class?

Neural Basis of Behavior. Although I am a Psychology major, I greatly enjoy Biology. This class juxtaposed my interest in human behavior with the physiological functions of the brain. It was interesting to learn how each part of the brain coordinated different behaviors, and about what happens if one part of the brain is damaged. I was so passionate about the subject that it no longer mattered what grade I received in the class, but more importantly what I was learning.

Who is your favorite professor?

Professor Soad. She was my Arabic teacher this past year and I developed a very strong relationship with her. She always made time to attend cultural events out of the classroom, where I would run into her. It was no surprise seeing her on the bus or running into her at the gym. She was not only an amazing professor, but also so laid back and willing to be a friend to all of her students.