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Class of 2023: Ella Tomkins

International student Ella Tomkins is leaving her footprints in the Psychology classrooms in Merritt Hall, the Writing Center where she tutored students, and on the record board in Harlow Pool. Even when she returns home to New Zealand, she’ll remember the opportunities she pursued, friendships she made, and the faculty who supported her on the Hill.

Ella Tomkins Class of 2023

Ella Tomkins is a Psychology and Sociology major from Coromandel, New Zealand.

When I took my first step on the Hill, I was: Alone and very nervous. I had just flown halfway around the world to a country where I knew no one and had never been before.

The me who will ring the Old Main bell on Commencement Day is: Accomplished, proud, and brave. I have grown so much since being here and have had the opportunity to become my own person.

Real world experiences: Due to being an international student, most of my working experiences were on campus in the Residence Life office and Writing Center. I also consider my four years at McDaniel as studying abroad. Studying here and being able to be in a different country was an amazing experience and one that I will always look back on fondly.

My aha moment: I learned that in order to have great experiences, I really have to push myself out of my comfort zone. In coming to McDaniel, I took a really big step away from everything I had known and everything that was stable in my life. After being here for about a year, I realized that the decision I made was incredibly brave and something that has changed me in so many ways.

Footprints I’m leaving on the Hill: I leave my footprints in Merritt Hall where I took most of my Psychology classes, and Hill Hall where I worked at the Writing Center as a tutor for three years. I will leave the biggest footprint at Harlow Pool, where I was almost every day of fall semester, Jan Term, and half of spring semester all four years at McDaniel. My name will also be on the school record board hanging above the pool, hopefully, for years to come. I want to be remembered as someone who always tried their best, helped others, and was a leader on campus.

Faculty or staff member who most influenced who I have become: Professor Sarah Lippy M.S. '09 has most influenced who I have become because of her kindness and encouragement. She was my advisor and was always there when I needed her help. Professor Lippy also understood that I had different challenges due to being an international student and did her best to support me any way she could. Additionally, Professor Lippy facilitated my involvement with many wonderful opportunities while on campus such as being a writing fellow, a teaching assistant, and speaking to prospective students about my experiences with the Psychology department.

Best class ever: The best class ever was Criminology with Dr. Dundes. That class had so many interesting assignments that I felt really pushed my writing, oral, and critical thinking skills. I learned so much and absolutely loved all of the topics and readings we did. It is also the class where I first started to consider taking on Sociology as another major. I was able to make a great connection with Dr. Dundes and came out with a strong understanding of my potential and what I am capable of.

Took me totally by surprise: How well I am able to adapt to what a situation calls for. I often found myself in strange and new situations and through this I was able to become very quick at adapting and am now able to thrive no matter what is thrown my way.

My favorite spot on campus: My favorite spot on campus is Harlow Pool. Going to the pool and swimming almost every day was the only consistent thing in my life here at McDaniel. It is where I had many difficult moments, where I struggled, but it is also where I made lifelong friends and have many happy memories.

Most mind-boggling idea I learned at McDaniel: How much psychology and sociology research and theories impact our daily lives. I also learned that most people don’t use the large amount of psychology and sociology research out there, even though utilizing it could make our lives a lot better.

My capstone titles: Psychology capstone: “I’ll Get it Done Later, Hopefully,” and Sociology capstone: “Would You Spank your Child?”

What they’re about in plain talk: Psychology: I researched procrastination in college students and was then tasked with giving that information to people that could benefit from it. To share what I had learned about procrastination, I gave a presentation to an Intro to Psychology class and created handouts and flyers for departments on campus. I found that procrastination is a complex issue with connections to biological, socioemotional, and cognitive areas of psychology. I also found interventions that students would be able to implement in their lives to help reduce procrastination, such as asking themselves reflection questions.

Sociology: I examined data connected to attitudes toward spanking children. I found that age and gender of individuals did not predict attitudes toward spanking and that there are still individuals who agree with spanking children. Understanding the views of spanking could help professionals like social workers and teachers avoid assumptions about who supports spanking.​

Tell us a little about your activities, including sports, during your years at McDaniel: I am a member of Pi Gamma Mu, Psi Chi, Alpha Kappa Delta, and Trumpeters honor societies. I have worked at the Writing Center as a tutor for three years now and love working with so many different people on campus. I also became a resident assistant my junior year and head resident assistant my senior year. Being an RA has been another way for me to work with many people and learn how to adapt in the moment in order to help others. The most impactful activity for me at McDaniel was swimming and being captain of the women’s swim team. On the swim team I made strong connections with teammates and achieved lifelong goals.

What’s next: After four years living so far away from home and my family, I plan to travel back to New Zealand and do my best to make up for lost time with the people that are important to me.

About Ella

Majors: Psychology and Sociology

Class of 2023

"Studying here and being able to be in a different country was an amazing experience and one that I will always look back on fondly."