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Amber McLaughlin

Amber McLaughlin

Ph.D. Research:

A lot of my research is centered around student success and different initiatives we can take to help students with the transition from high school to college, just that adjustment period and how that affects their retention as they progress through their undergraduate program.

What my research is focusing on now is using the practice of mindfulness and how that can be beneficial to students regardless of where they are in the transition process or what type of background they’re coming from. It’s how we can apply mindfulness in our everyday lives to not only affect the transition and adjustment process for students but to give them tools they can use throughout their academic career and really throughout their lives to adjust to different changes in their personal lives.

If you weren’t working at WVU, what’s the most likely alternative?

Well, if I weren’t working at all, then it’d be travel for sure. I love to travel and go to new places and explore and see new things and meet new people. That would be my number one choice if I didn’t work at all. I don’t know if I have a dream destination necessarily. I think would start out going to visit people that I know in places I’ve never been. I have exchange sisters from when I was in high school. One lives in Brazil; one lives in Germany; and one lives in Peru.

Moment you knew what you wanted to study?

My undergrad just kind of happened. I was a typical B student. I knew I needed to be in college, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I grew up with a love of the outdoors, so that’s how that degree [Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources] happened. Then, I had a friend who was working in WVU central admissions and recruitment office and they were looking for an undergraduate recruiter to travel out of state. I thought, “Oh, that sounds great. I don’t have to sit behind a desk all day. I get to travel and talk to people, so sign me up!” I applied and got it. And my experience in that office is what propelled me to want to stay in higher education. Having that contact with prospective students and their parents and being able to use my experience to get them excited about WVU and make that choice was a really rewarding feeling. The longer I worked in that office the more attached I became to figuring out how to turn it into a career. That’s when I went back and got my Master’s in Higher Education Administration, and that’s what’s happened with my Ph.D.

Moment you knew what your current role was right for you?

I don’t know if I had a specific moment. For me, it’s when I see a student who's struggling, and I’m able to intervene in one way or another; and then I see them turn the corner and become successful.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I don’t know that I have a specific place. It would just need to be somewhere warm. West Virginia is my max of cold weather. I don’t really care where I am as long as it’s somewhere warm and near a beach.

Favorite part of social distancing?

My favorite part and my most stressful part has been spending more time with my kids for sure. I have two. My daughter is 11 and my son is six. Overall, they do get along. They have their moments for sure. But the amount of time we’ve gotten to spend together and the amount of things that we’ve done over the course of the past six or seven months has been really good for us as our little family - time that otherwise I would not have been able to spend with them.

Least favorite part of social distancing?

I think my least favorite part is the adult daily interactions. I’m a very social person. I’m used to being in the office and walking to other peoples’ offices and checking in with them. I thrive off of that energy. So not having the interaction with colleagues and students on a daily basis is for sure my least favorite part.

Just for Fun

Favorite Book: King Midas and the Golden Touch; The Velvet Room; Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children; The Odessa File

Favorite movie/tv show: My Fair Lady

Favorite Spotify playlist/band/song: 70’s music, Lionel Richie

Favorite local restaurant: Terra Cafe

Favorite local activity: Kayaking at Cheat Lake, Decker’s Creek, Tygart Lake