University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences Senior Caps College Career with Awards and Recognition

Nicole Laviña Takes First Place in Undergraduate Research Forum, and Wins UM Student Employee of the Year Award

Graduating senior Nicole Laviña is ending her student career in the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences with an exciting string of successes.

A proud ’Cane by birth – both her parents are alumni – Laviña excels both in and out of the classroom. She is graduating with Departmental Honors in Psychology this week, with a minor in religious studies.

Her senior honors thesis, “Gender Differences in Effortful Control Across Multiple Tasks in Early Childhood,” took first place in the Social Sciences category at the recent Undergraduate Research, Creativity and Innovation Forum. In her study, Laviña observed gender difference in rule compliance across different tasks in 36-month-old children.

In addition to earning stellar grades throughout her time at UM, Laviña has worked as a Peer Advising Liaison (PAL) in the Department of Psychology’s Undergraduate Academic Services for Psychology (UASP) office. In this capacity, she counsels both first-year students and transfer students new to UM.

Sean Kilpatrick, director of undergraduate academic services in the Department of Psychology, oversees all UASP functions, including supervising the PALs.

He said, “Over the last three years, her naturally genuine character, thorough understanding of UASP’s mission and its importance, and keen ability to develop new practices consistent with their values allowed her to emerge as the unanimous leader among her coworkers.” Kilpatrick added that she took the lead in establishing a social media presence for the office, and developing a new Fast Track advising service that has “improved the overall undergraduate experience for thousands of students.”

Laviña said working in UASP “has been the largest and most influential part of (my) college career.”

Laviña also works as a research assistant in Professor Heather Henderson’s Child Development Laboratory, and serves as a Study Abroad Student Ambassador, after participating in the URome program in Spring 2012.

In recognition of her outstanding contribution to UASP, Laviña was named the 2013-2014 University of Miami Student Employee of the Year. Kilpatrick said, “Nicole is an excellent student, a phenomenal employee, and a great representative of the University of Miami. … She upholds the University’s standards of excellence in everything she does.”

Laviña has delighted her supervisors in the UASP office by accepting a full-time position as an Academic Advisor, beginning May 19. She said, “I am invested in the office and care about helping to build the department to its full potential,” adding that the environment “supports growth and creativity while maintaining a professional and organized reputation and putting students as their first priority.

Kilpatrick said, “This new opportunity will provide Nicole with another means to leave a lasting impression on her soon-to-be alma mater by using her experience to influence future graduates of the undergraduate psychology and neuroscience programs.”

April 30, 2014