Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Since 1919

The Prairie News

Behind the major with Abigail Stilwell: supporting others through everything

Abigail+Stilwell
Abigail Stilwell

Abigail Stilwell is a senior working towards a bachelor of arts degree while double majoring in psychology and sociology with a minor in Spanish at West Texas A&M University. Stilwell is from Wichita Falls and is genuinely fascinated with the field that she is pursuing.

“I want to work in clinical psychology,” Stilwell said.

Stilwell’s fascination and passion for helping other people while they navigate life’s obstacles originated in elementary school.

“I’ve always been interested in it [clinical psychology],” Stilwell said. “I remember in, like, third grade, I picked up a book about brains, and I read it in one sitting and read it again in the same day. It just always fascinated me, like how brains work, how they go wrong, and how we fix them when they’re going wrong. And I’ve always liked helping people, so I think psychology and counseling was just kind of always going to be where I ended up.”

Stilwell believes that working in the counseling industry is a career that can support everybody.

“Well, I mean, I think counseling can benefit everyone at some point in their life,” Stilwell said. “It’s something most people can benefit from, and lots of people do use it in their lives. And also psychology is used in so many other places. It’s used in engineering design and architectural design and in textbooks and standardized testing. I mean, psychology is everywhere.”

One of Stilwell’s favorite parts of her double major is the addition of the sociology aspect.

“I think pursuing psychology is my passion,” Stilwell said. “But I really like sociology because I feel like it gives me a fuller and more rounded context for which to kind of put psychology in.”

Aside from already working towards a double major, Stilwell chose to add in a Spanish minor as a result of her mother.

“My mother was a Spanish teacher, so I came in with the white lady Spanish gene,” Stilwell said. “Cómo estás en la clase? And I yeah, I took dual enrollment in Spanish when I was in high school. And I just really liked it, so I just kind of kept taking Spanish classes until I ended up in a minor; I also ended up studying abroad. Long term, I’d like to gain a level of fluency where I can do therapy in Spanish.”

Stilwell was drawn to WT for several reasons.

“I got a lot of really good scholarship offers here [WT], and I liked the psychology program,” Stilwell said. “I met with some of the professors here when I was touring in high school, and I also liked that it was a smaller campus because I come from a small town with a small community college. So, WT felt much more accessible and just fathomable to my small-town brain. I really, really enjoyed the smallness of it in a lot of ways.”

Since beginning at WT, Stilwell has been blessed with wonderful opportunities.

“I’ve ended up being the vice president of internal affairs of Residence Hall Association (RHA), which is something I never knew existed before I came here,” Stilwell said. “I think if I went to a bigger school, like, I never would have gotten involved in, but because I’m at a small school and I’m in a really small dorm, that was just like something that came up to me, and is now such an integral part of my life. I’ve also been given the chance to be on the forensics team, which also I didn’t know existed when I was in high school. Getting involved in any way would’ve been harder to do and I probably wouldn’t have stumbled into either of those things like on a bigger campus. But WT has a really, really active residence hall life and really active forensics team, so I really enjoyed doing both of those things here.”

One of Stilwell’s favorite things about WT is the community around campus.

“I think about the community in a lot of ways because I didn’t necessarily expect to find a home here,” Stilwell said. “In a lot of ways, it can be a hostile environment, but I do think you carve out a space for very like-minded people. I also think I’ve done a lot more personal growth here than I think I would have done at a bigger or more liberal arts university.”

Stilwell is also a member of the Attebury Honors Program. Outside of academics, Stilwell enjoys crafts and is currently interested in bead making as she’s working on producing bead lampshades. Stilwell has been on a fast track at WT and is graduating after being here for only two years; she plans to attend graduate school to earn a doctorate in psychology.

Stilwell believes you should try new things quickly since you never know where it will lead you.

“You never know until you try,” Stilwell said. “There are so many things like at WT that I was like, ‘Wow, I bet I’m not smart enough for that or better, not capable enough for that,’ and I just kind of tried new things expecting to fail and realized that I could do it, so you can too.”

 

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About the Contributor
Kaelin Collar, Junior Reporter, Associate Editor-in-Chief
Hi everyone! My name is Kaelin Collar, and I'm a sophomore majoring in biology on a pre-medical track from Oregon. I've been with The Prairie News for one year and am the current Associate Editor. Although I'm not pursuing a career in journalism, The Prairie News continues to improve my interpersonal, interviewing, writing, research and leadership skills that will benefit me in my future career. My career goal is to work in the surgical field, with neurology as my specialty. Aside from academics, I love to read, hike, work, go plant shopping, spend time with friends and family and be on the water. 

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    Belinda DavisFeb 8, 2024 at 11:19 pm

    So proud of your success!

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