Colin Powell School
“The Past Is History; Ask for Help and Move Forward” — Ran Liu’s Quest to Earn a PhD in Psychology
Ran Liu came to City College with the encouragement of her high school counselor in Michigan, a New Yorker who knew about the CCNY Psychology Department’s strong reputation. Liu’s interest in Psychology began when she was a high school student, and since then she has been steadfastly committed to building a career in Psychology, in spite of the hardship and discouragement brought by the pandemic. At the Colin Powell School, she has developed her knowledge and skill by excelling as a summa cum laude scholar, working as a research assistant with the support of several faculty members in the Psychology Department, and participating in scholarship and internship programs. She encourages all students to actively seek opportunities, ask for help when they need it, do what they love, and remain focused on their goals.
Please tell us about your background and how you landed at CCNY.
I am an international student from China. My family supported me to come to the United States when I was going to high school. I was in Michigan for three years for high school. I decided to pursue a career in Psychology when I was in my senior year in high school. My high school counselor, who was from New York, recommended that I apply to the City College of New York. During spring break of my senior year, my good friend and I flew to New York and visited the CCNY campus. When we were sitting in front of the beautiful Shepard hall, I decided to come to City College. Then, I moved to New York by myself to attend CCNY.
What do you hope to accomplish as a Psychology major, and how has the Colin Powell School helped you to pursue your goals?
I am planning to pursue a PhD in Psychology. The Colin Powell School has helped me along the way by providing opportunities to develop my knowledge of Psychology and my research skills. I did not know much about the subject of Psychology when I first came to college. I took Dr. Robert Melara's Intro to Psychology class in my first semester, and the class itself did very well to introduce me to the Psychology world. After finishing that class, I got to be a research assistant working in Dr. Melara's Attention Lab while doing a counseling internship on the side. After my junior year, I found myself more interested in doing research. Then, I got to design my own independent projects. I learned to write protocols, submit applications, launch studies, write reports, and make presentations. Additionally, thanks to all the amazing opportunities at Colin Powell School, I got to take part in different programs which all helped me to continuously refine my research skills.
After I graduate, I plan to set aside about one year to do research in cognitive/clinical psychology. I will continue working with two of the faculty members in the Psychology Department to continue refining my research writing skills and prepare for the PhD. I am very thankful that the two professors are always supportive of my learning journey.
I am following this path because this is what I enjoy doing and it is helpful to be engaged continuously in the field that you are interested in. Although at times you may not think it is important, it is always helpful to know that there is so much more you can learn from others at all times.
Would you like to share a significant memory or accomplishment from your time at CCNY?
During the lockdown period, I got into the City College Fellow program and received funding for doing research. It was a great accomplishment. It encouraged me to continue pursuing a career in research when I was discouraged from studying, like many other students at that time. In the following year, I was able to participate in the ORCA program, where I get to interact with other scholars from school in person and talk about our research projects, after a year of online learning. I am very grateful to have all of those supports from the school and my mentor, knowing that they are still there to help me grow, even when things are uncertain.
Do you have any advice you could give to current or future students?
Don't be afraid to ask for opportunities at Colin Powell School. There are so many things you can do and there will always be a lot of support. Take advantage of this, and be encouraged to learn.
Don't be scared to make mistakes. The Colin Powell School is a very friendly learning environment. If you are stuck on what you are doing, find someone who can help. It is okay to ask questions. We are not all knowledgeable about everything.
The past is history, be strong and move forward. We live in a challenging time where sometimes you might get lost and don't know what to do. If that happens, it's ok. There's always a way out of the difficult situation; back to advice #2, find someone to help you move forward.