Written by UWaterloo Faculty of Arts

Hannah Honours Arts | Psychology

Hannah Honours Arts | Psychology by UWaterloo Faculty of Arts

“Above all else I value building authentic connections and creating communities that promote equality, compassion, and wellbeing.”

Hannah is focused on using her studies for good. An Honours Arts Psychology student with a minor in Philosophy, she’s applying lessons from the classroom to the real world through volunteer and research opportunities, giving her peers the tools they need to practice self-care and compassion.

The Body Project

In 2017, Campus Wellness launched The Body Project, a peer-driven, body-acceptance program that uses frank group discussion to confront the unrealistic expectations and pressures women face every day. As one of five Waterloo students chosen to lead the program, Hannah facilitates group discussions with attendees. Her involvement with the project is all the more meaningful given her own past struggles with mental health and body image.

“We have important conversations about the what the thin-ideal is, the ways society implicitly and explicitly pressures us to conform, what we can do to resist, and how we will benefit from resisting…I love providing my peers with knowledge and tools to resist societal pressures, and watching them promote this resistance in others!”

Hannah slack-lining on campus

The Self-Attitudes Lab

Hannah isn’t just interested in facilitating these important conversations – she’s also eager to learn why the techniques she reads about in textbooks or uses with The Body Project provide positive outcomes. Cue her involvement with the Self-Attitudes Lab.

Under the leadership of Dr. Allison Kelly, the Self-Attitudes Lab researches how individuals’ feelings about themselves influences how they think and behave, with the goal of understanding and preventing eating disorders, improving treatment, and promoting a better sense of wellbeing for all. Hannah discovered the lab through her fellow Body Project volunteers, who knew she’d be a great fit given her passion and experience.

Since then, Hannah has worked as a Research Assistant in the lab, and begins her own honours thesis research under Dr. Kelly this fall. Knowing the importance and direct impact this work has keeps Hannah motivated to move forward.

“The most rewarding part of working with the lab is definitely the implications of our research. Our findings allow for the improvement of current understandings and treatments, as well as the development of new and possibly more successful treatments. What is most rewarding to me is thinking about how my research has the potential to benefit individuals in the future.”

Hannah working at her desk in the Self Criticism Lab office

Hannah working at her desk in the Self-Attitudes Lab office.

Adventure awaits

As Hannah approaches the final year of her undergraduate degree, she’s exploring Wilderness Therapy as a possible next step. A unique cognitive behavioural approach that takes individuals seeking treatment into the great outdoors rather than traditional facilities, working in the wild combines Hannah’s interest in athletics with her passion for contributing to just and caring communities. 

Regardless of what direction her career goes, Hannah’s time at Waterloo has given her a solid foundation for success.

“My undergraduate experience strengthened my belief that new opportunities arise all the time, and through different experiences I continue to discover new ways to pursue my passions. What I do know is that I will be working with and supporting others.”

Hannah on a hike

Learn more about the University of Waterloo’s Honours Arts program on the undergraduate admissions website.