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Kayla Boaz `19 Gains New Experiences as a Fulbright Intern

Kayla Boaz `19 takes mental health very seriously and is forging a path to make a career out of it. As a psychology major at Ohio Northern University, Kayla spent 12 weeks this past summer as a Fulbright intern in Canada.

A Fulbright Canada MITACS Globalink internship brought her to Vancouver, where she worked at the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Infant Cognition.

“The work itself was really cool because it was focused on a topic that I could never have been exposed to here [at Ohio Northern University] because we do not have easy access to the same demographic,” explained Boaz. “Added to that, in Canada, maternity leave is 17 months and so a longitudinal study like this would have been a lot more difficult to execute in the United States.”

During the internship, Kayla led tasks that tested babies’ moral and social development.

“It was a balancing act working with the babies and making sure they were having a good time while also engaging in the research. We need them to come back for a three-year period, so it was important that their parents and the babies themselves felt comfortable.”

Kayla knew she wanted to do a research-focused internship for her third summer in college, but a lot of the research experiences for undergraduates in America were in fields that she was not particularly interested in or in locations that didn’t intrigue her, so she discussed other options with Ohio Northern University (ONU)’s Fulbright representative, who told her about MITAC’s program.

MITACS is a company that brings people from all over the world to Canada to participate in summer internships. Fulbright Canada also partners with the United States’ Fulbright program to entice American students but that does not make the application process any less rigorous.
 
Kayla and her mom, Kristeen Boaz

Kayla and her mom, Kristeen, at high tea in Vancouver

“The initial application was due in September and then there were multiple stages. There were applicants from 40 countries all fighting for the same spots,” said Boaz. “I had to rank my top seven programs, but I wanted to go to British Columbia the most because I’ve heard that it’s beautiful and I’ve never lived in a city. I was offered an interview from one of the seven places on my list and, thankfully, it was in Vancouver. I was interviewed and then had to wait another month for the response. When I found out I was accepted into the first cohort to actually go to Canada [the first two were virtual because of Covid], I jumped up and called my mom [Kristeen Boaz, learning specialist at Country Day].”

Exploring Vancouver on a seaplane

Although the internship did not fill any school requirements, Kayla was paid a stipend and was able to travel around Canada – one of the Ph.D. students in her lab even brought her and other interns to Vancouver Island on a seaplane. She said the experience at a larger university also gave her a different perspective.

“Country Day gave me the individualized experience I needed, so I thought going to a smaller college would be a better fit for me and I like the personalized aspect of my undergrad experience. I have been working in a research lab since my freshman year and because I’ve worked in the lab for three years I have had the opportunity to run lab sessions and lab research as the research assistant. It’s work that graduate students usually do so I am grateful that I have this experience as an undergrad.”

She also appreciates the access she has to her ONU professors, just as she had access to her teachers at Country Day.

Kayla Boaz and friends during Clap-Out

Kayla, Molly Briggs `19, and Samantha Brant `19 at Clap-Out their senior year


“I have ADHD [attention deficit hyperactivity disorder] so I need extra help in school. I have always asked a lot of questions – especially throughout middle school – so it was very helpful for me to have one-on-one attention from the teachers at Country Day. I definitely took advantage of my teachers’ office hours in Upper School, which opened my eyes to what I needed to be successful in college. Now, I know my professors well and I would not have realized how invaluable that is to me if I didn’t attend Country Day.” 

Kayla said Country Day also helped her navigate her career options by providing her with job shadow opportunities, which influenced her undergraduate decision.

Kayla selected ONU because of its strong undergraduate psychology program and because she was offered a full-tuition scholarship, one that is highly competitive and only two of more than 350 applicants receive. Now back in the states, Kayla is busy applying to Ph.D. programs, most of which do not accept more than 10 people a year.

Kayla Boaz '19 and Sam Taylor '19 explore Canada

Kayla and Sam Taylor '19 explore British Columbia


“I hope to get my Ph.D. in clinical psychology so I can eventually do therapy as well as research on the social-emotional implications of ADHD. Who knows where I will end up though – it's daunting but exciting. It helps that my boyfriend [Sam Taylor `19] is studying communications and journalism and is cool to go wherever my Ph.D. takes us.”

As she gets ready to embark on her next adventure, she has advice for those who are just beginning theirs.

“There are so many options out there so apply to as much as you can – you have the whole world ahead of you and Country Day does a great job preparing you for it. It’s such a supportive community so make the most of it. I needed extra help every once in a while and it was not because I wasn’t smart or motivated. If you’re struggling, reach out to your friends and teachers; talk to people because we all need to support one another."