UAH alumna’s gap year program becomes dream career
Raeshaun Jones’ (’18, BA, Psychology) gap year was supposed to be a much-needed break from rigorous academic work. But, after hearing about the unique research opportunities being conducted at the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s (UAH) Psychology Department, Jones made a spur-of-the-moment decision to enroll in the academic program rather than setting off for gap year activities.
The Hartselle, AL, native earned her first undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa). Although Jones’ minor was in psychology, she never considered it a career choice until she heard about the innovative research being conducted at UAH. She remembers close friends boasting about how great UAH was for them.
“My academic interests continued to flourish after working in the UAH Lifelong Learning Laboratory directed by Dr. Jodi Price,” said Jones. “Dr. Price helped me to discover the physical and mental aspects of psychological problems that interested me the most.”
At UAH, Jones said genuine concern for students shown by the professors in the Psychology department changed her academic outlook. “I grew as a person and was able to fully understand my career path. Instead of attending medical school, I applied to the university’s graduate Psychology program. It is the best decision I ever made.”
Jones’ number one priority as a human factors analyst on the Redstone Arsenal is to make sure the human-machine interaction (communication and interaction) work together seamlessly.
“Working in the helicopter division, I am tasked with analyzing helicopters and humans that fly the aircraft. In addition, my tasks include reviewing tests that have been conducted, researching new ideas being implemented in the field, and even thinking of ways to better the experience of pilots throughout flights,” she added.
Jones said the most exciting part of her job is being able to help people. “The pilots are very appreciative of us listening to what they want, and figuring out a way to implement it quickly. Knowing that what I do directly helps the pilots is exhilarating and inspires me to be more innovative.”
Now a UAH graduate student, Jones sums up in two words the value of her education: unlimited potential.
“UAH prepared me well for my current position as a human factors analyst,” said Jones. “I use the academic knowledge I learned from UAH on a daily basis at work. I never expected to use strategic decision making from perception, development, and cognition on the job. But I use the information as a starting point and tailor it to the issue at hand in order to come up with relevant suggestions to fix, or at least mitigate, current or future problems.
“This position requires me to work in tandem with engineers from many disciplines. Going to UAH, an institution that has an international reputation for educating engineers has prepared me for this position even more.”
Jones said her favorite UAH experience will always be attending the Psychonomic Society’s 58th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
“It was the first conference of my academic career through research in the UAH Lifelong Learning Laboratory. People from all over the world attended the conference,” said Jones. “I presented a poster, and it was there I fell for the culture of the psychology community.”
Her advice to anyone seeking a career in the Liberal Arts — specifically psychology is to simply: “do not limit yourself.”
“There is so much to do in the field of psychology,” said Jones. “Find aspects of the field that excite you, and then find a career that utilizes those aspects. When you find a job that doesn’t feel like work, then you know you have found something special.”
In spring 2020, Jones will graduate from UAH with a Master of Arts in Psychology, with an Industrial and Organizational Psychology Specialization.
(Courtesy of University of Alabama in Huntsville)