UA Little Rock grad savors college experience close to home

Betsy Van Dusen graduates with a bachelor's degrees in psychology and sociology and hopes to be a licensed counselor.

Coming to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock was an easy decision for Betsy Van Dusen, who always knew she wanted to go to college close to home.

At North Little Rock High School, Van Dusen had participated and excelled in the Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Initiative. UA Little Rock had the first and only collegiate level EAST program in the country, and Van Dusen was offered UA Little Rock’s highly competitive full-tuition EAST Scholarship.

“It was an amazing opportunity,” she said, “and I knew it was the right decision.”

Four years later, and Van Dusen will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology on May 12 in the Jack Stephens Center. She has been accepted into the University of Central Arkansas’ Clinical Mental Health Counseling program and starts this fall. After the two-and-a-half-year graduate program, Van Dusen will sit for exams to become a licensed professional counselor.

“I was an anxious kid myself and have a special interest in working with kids and teenagers,” she said.

When she started college, Van Dusen thought she wanted to be a teacher.

“For the first year, I took Intro to Teaching, and I volunteered at a school for an afternoon program,” she said.

Then, during her sophomore year, she took Dr. Robert  Hines’ Cognitive Psychology class.

“I always looked forward to the class, and realized I was really interested in it. I’ve always been interested in how people interact and why they think the way they do. I decided I can do a lot with this degree.”

Van Dusen is also a member of Psi Chi, a national honor society for psychology students. She hadn’t planned to be a sociology major as well, but after taking several sociology classes, her advisor pointed out that she was three classes shy of having a double major.

“Some of my hardest classes were in sociology, but I learned so much,” she said.

Van Dusen has also had the dual experience of campus living and commuting.

For the first two years, she lived in South Hall.

“It was a good experience to have some freedom,” she said. “Living on campus, you can either sit in your dorm and be alone or get out and do stuff. For the EAST program, I was spending a lot of time with the other scholars and met many friends. It definitely made me put myself out there.”

As an EAST Scholar, she was required to spend 15 hours per week in the lab, working on projects with other scholars. The Scholars annually exhibited work at the national annual EAST Initiative conference in Hot Springs.

During her junior and senior year, Van Dusen chose to live at home to save money. She also has worked various part-time retail and restaurant jobs to ensure that she graduates debt-free.

“That’s a great feeling,” she said. “I really have enjoyed UA Little Rock. I’ve had some great professors and some challenging professors, but they all made it clear that they were here to help me.”

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