Psychology – Outstanding Senior 2020

Kelly Wambui Ngigi.Kelly Wambui Ngigi

Born in Nairobi, Kenya; raised in Birmingham, Alabama, since the age of 4; family now lives in Seattle, Washington


  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology
  • Minor in Human Development

Clubs, Organizations, Leadership, and Service

  • African Diaspora Association – Events Coordinator
  • Undergraduate Research Conference presenter: Black Doctoral Network Conference in Newark, New Jersey
  • Student of Color Conference, Yakima, Washington – workshop presenter on ‘You Must Look Ahead to Stay Ahead’ and ‘African Identity’
  • Undergraduate Research Conference, National Conference for McNair Scholars, College Park, Maryland – presenter
  • Major Keys to College Success, Birmingham, Alabama, 2016–20 – Executive Board member
  • McNair Scholar

Internships and Employment

  • Multicultural Student Services – Transfer Student Ambassador, 2018–20
  • University Recreation – membership attendant
  • UREC – summer camp counselor
  • Institute for Community Leadership – civic engagement intern: Facilitated group discussions between community members and local political and social leaders; researched political state policy on career and technical education and created a policy paper for state legislation
  • Multicultural Student Services Director’s Council, Yakima – SOCC logistics intern

Undergraduate Research

  • Project IMHOTEP, CDC Undergraduate Public Health Scholars Program, Atlanta. Completed research project, Culturally relevant Communication Strategies to Shift Health Beliefs, Behaviors and Attitudes
  • McNair Scholars Program research, Impact of College Students Help-Seeking Attitudes and Perceived Social Support on College Psychological Service Utilization under the mentorship of Dr. Michael Cleveland

Awards and Recognition

  • 2020 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Senior in Psychology
  • Outstanding Program Contribution Award
  • Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society
  • Umoja Black Scholar
  • Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship semifinalist
  • WSU Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities abstract accepted for 2019 and 2020 poster presentations
  • Transfer Clearinghouse Ambassador Award

Faculty Comments

“Kelly’s research experience, academic performance, and community outreach makes her an outstanding senior. She understands WSU’s mission and vision for social justice and equity. This is clear through her commitment to WSU and our community. Due to her transfer background, she was very passionate about finding ways to help transfer students at WSU, so despite her rigorous academic schedule, Kelly has been a student ambassador since 2018 to support and mentor fellow Cougs during their transition to WSU. We believe Kelly’s dedication, leadership and contribution to community and research are everything WSU values and we can think of no one more deserving of this award.” –Department of Psychology

Personal Statement

I would like to begin by thanking God because without him there is no me and without him this journey of life is purposeless. I am both honored and humbled to receive this award and recognition. I want to say thank you to the individuals who have stood with me throughout this journey.  Thank you to my family, numerous mentors, friends, Dr. Michael Cleveland, WSU McNair Scholars Program, and to the many kind and encouraging souls I have encountered along the way. To WSU, thank you for offering me much more than I could have imagined; I was hesitant at the beginning of our journey but you gave me support, resources, and the opportunity to expand as both a human and scholar. For that I am grateful.

Honored Faculty and Mentors

  • Chioma Heim, academic advisor, Department of Psychology
  • Selam Yadetta, academic advisor, Department of Psychology
  • Michael Cleveland, chair and professor, Department of Human Development
  • Raymond Herrera, director, McNair Scholars Program

Future Plans

Kelly will attend graduate school at Penn State University, beginning Fall 2020 in the Human Development and Family Studies PhD program. As a developing researcher, Kelly intends to focus on mental health, parent-child relationships, and social and emotional development.