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Psychology

Jordan Finnegan

Class of 2012
Major/Minor
Psychology / Biology

Washington College recruited Jordan Finnegan ’12 to play tennis, but the liberal arts experience has given her so much more than an impressive win-loss record (to date, Jordan has accumulated a career record of 47-14 in singles and 58-8 in doubles.) The first-year student who came to college unsure of exactly what she wanted to study has truly found her passion and is now applying for Physician Assistant graduate programs.

Jordan first embarked on a pre-law curriculum, but as she explored her requisite courses she found an affinity for biology, which led her to the psychology department. The psychology major with a biology minor says, “Without the exposure a liberal arts education provides, I wouldn’t have been able to experience the various disciplines that have led me to where I am now.”

She absolutely loves the faculty in the psych department, saying “each professor is unique, and each brings a totally different perspective to the courses they teach.” Her advisor, Professor Lauren Littlefield, always has the time to listen, to weigh her questions and “to find a way to connect.” She also enjoys unique relationships with the other faculty members in the department. “Paying attention in class is never difficult because everyone encourages questions, and classes always seem to be about interesting topics.”

Jordan considers her dual role as a student-athlete. “It’s tough to balance sports and academics, especially now with as many labs as I have this fall and the fact that we practice two hours a day, even in the off-season, and lift weights twice a week—it really teaches you time-management skills.”

With her sights set on a career as a Physician Assistant, Jordan spent last summer accumulating clinical hours in a doctor’s office in her hometown of Wilmington, DE, and working as a counselor at a camp for children with cancer at St. Andrews School in nearby Middletown.

And then there’s her senior thesis: “My proposed title for my thesis is: Trends and Debate in the Diagnosis and Prevalence of Autism.” She explains that some conditions thought to be distinct may well be only points on a continuum.

“The broadened diagnostic criterion for Autism Spectrum Disorders, in which for example, Asperger’s Disorder is included as a separate diagnosis from Autistic Disorder, has created difficulty for professionals in making a clear distinction between the two disorders,” she says. “One thing my thesis will explore is whether Autistic Disorder and Asperger’s Disorder are or should be classified as two distinct disorders. I predict a majority of professionals believe the differences in language acquisition are not significant enough to separate the two disorders or that both do not possess enough definitive differences. Mainly I will be focusing on whether the current increase in Autistic Disorder diagnosis is due to an actual increase in incidence or whether the diagnosis of this disorder is increasing.”

For all that she has going on in her life, Jordan seems to be comfortable, a sure sign that she has a sense of balance that includes school, sports and her future.