Colleen Hagan '18, Psychology

Campus Involvement leads to Success after Graduation 

When Colleen Hagan ’18 was looking at colleges, she had helpful conversations with a Northern Vermont University - Johnson admissions representative at a college fair and then with a professor at a Johnson open house event. Those two experiences convinced her to choose NVU — and as a student, she was still connected with both of the people she met.     

At the college fair in New Hampshire, “I remember walking around, very confused,” she recalls. While talking with Admissions Director Patrick Rogers, “I could feel that he really cared, and that calmed my nerves,” Colleen said. After that first connection with Patrick, she worked with the admissions office as a student ambassador and led tours of the Johnson campus.

When she met psychology professor Gina Mireault at an open house on campus, Colleen was very impressed. “She talked about the psychology program, asked me some personal questions, and helped me feel welcome even before I was enrolled,” says Colleen, who graduated with a degree in psychology and was Gina’s advisee.

The caring and interest Colleen felt from NVU staff and faculty before she enrolled have continued throughout her time at Johnson.

“The faculty and staff are just so supportive. They really want to be here and help you, so it has been easy when it comes to courses and tutoring and any kind of support I need. I feel like I found it, and I found it easily,” says Colleen, who minored in business.

High-impact Learning Opportunities

Johnson’s focus on hands-on learning was a big benefit for Colleen, from Manchester, New Hampshire. She attended conferences and worked in an internship that helped her gain skills. Gina “encourages us to pursue all these different opportunities,” she says.  

Colleen also gained from Johnson’s high-impact learning approach on a faculty-led trip to Europe, connected to a course she took. “It made a lot of things in the course very real. It’s those kinds of experiences NVU offers that really make a difference in your education.”  

In her internship at Northwestern Counseling & Support Services in St. Albans, Colleen supported treatment planning and coordinated services while working with staff and attending meetings.  

“I got real hands-on experience working with families who have children with developmental disabilities and autism, learning what kind of support they really need,” she says. “Being in a true work environment, where you’re not just with other college students but in a real job….was helpful as well.” 

As a psychology student, “I think it’s really important that we were required to do an internship to see what area we want to go into,” Colleen says.

Leadership Roles that Lead to Careers

The internship and her job as an office assistant and orientation coordinator in Johnson’s Office of First-Year Experience helped her consider — and rule out — career options.  “While planning orientation and helping these students, I felt a real connection with students at our school and gained so much knowledge of how I can help them,” said Colleen who is now an enrollment counselor at River University. “I really enjoy listening to students and helping them succeed.”

Before coming to NVU, Colleen didn’t see herself as a leader, but once on campus, everything changed.

 “Making connections and becoming a leader are things I really didn’t see myself doing,” Colleen says. “I’ve found myself and gained all the skills I have…through the encouragement of the people at NVU.”

She also has been a leader on the field, in her second year now as president of the women’s rugby club.

“I look back on my college career, and realize how lucky I was to know almost everybody on campus, and to have been involved in many different things,” she says. “I feel very lucky and like a new person having gone to Johnson.”