Featured Students

Featured Student: Brighton Hollingsworth


  • Name: Brighton Hollingsworth
  • Year: Senior
  • Major: Psychology
  • Hometown: Nashville, TN
  • Quirky Fact: I can name all 50 states in alphabetical order
  • Favorite thing to get (food/drink) on campus: Caramel frap at the Curris center coffee shop
  • Best movie you’ve seen recently: La La Land
  • Favorite movie: Remember the Titians
  • Best book you’ve read recently: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • What you like to do on campus: Play intramural sports




Tell us about yourself:

I’m from Nashville, TN. I’ve been here for four years, and I’m graduating on time despite changing my major four times. I came in as a Physical Therapy major, then switched to athletic training, then I was nursing, and then I found psychology and I absolutely love it. I’m the Psych Club president, I am a peer buddy with Best Buddies, I’m in Social Psychology Club, and I am also on the Psych Bowl Team. I love staying involved on campus.

What made you come to Murray State?

My family used to vacation at Ken Lake Resort, and I had no idea that this place existed, even though it’s 17 minutes away. A few years later, I was the baseball manager at my high school, and we came here for a tournament over spring break. My mom said, “Did you know there was a school here?” and I said “No, where has that been?” She asked me if I wanted to go check it out because, at the time, I was a junior in high school, and I had planned to apply to other schools like Belmont, Lipscomb, and UT of Chattanooga. I really didn’t want to go to any of those places; they were just close to home and where everyone else was applying. We went to tour the campus.  I remember it was spring break so it was empty, and I actually loved that it was empty because I got a feel for the campus and it was just absolutely gorgeous. I fell in love with the campus and even when I am having a bad day and I’m stressed out, I just sit on campus for a minute and picture it without everybody and I remember why I love it here. Plus, it’s close to the lake and I’m kind of a lake junky.



Who have you enjoyed working with?

I was not prepared for this question because I don’t want to leave any of the professors out. I absolutely love all the professors: I love their teaching styles and they are all so much fun to work with. They all have open door polices, which is really helpful, and they are always there to help you with anything. I’ve worked the most with Dr. Joyce and have loved every second of it. She’s been so helpful and has taught me a ton about research. I did my first independent study with her. In the social psych club I’ve worked with Dr. Rife, Dr. Wann, and Dr. Hackathorn, and they are all amazing because they love what they do and love to share what they do with us. Now I’m doing research with Dr. Bordieri, and he’s fun to work with too. In his lab, it’s a group dynamic instead of one on one, and I’m really enjoying that new perspective on research.


Who inspires you in life?

So I’m kind of a nerd and Bones is my favorite TV show. Temperance Brennan is who I strive to be in life because of how smart she is. In real life my mom inspires me because my mom was really young and she had children and she has worked so hard her whole life. She keeps me working hard all the time and even on the days that I call and say “Okay I’m dropping out; I can’t handle this anymore; it’s too much stress. I have said yes to way too many things and I’m done,” she tells me it’s okay and reminds me to keep pushing, and that I can do it. If my mom can graduate from nursing school with two kids, then I can do it.


What made you choose the major you did?

I came in as a physical therapy majo, because I really liked exercise science. I had also taken an athletic training class and I love sports, so I wanted to do that for a semester. Then I switched to nursing. My mom is a nurse and I love the medical field. I have always known that I want to work in a hospital setting so I thought I would be a nursing major. That was way too hard; I could not do it and I was only a nursing major for one semester. Then I had to decide what I was going to do with my life as it was the end of sophomore year and I had two years left. I got online and looked at jobs at the hospital and majors that could work at a hospital because I want to work at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. I’ve been a patient there, I’ve volunteered there, and I just love it. I saw that psychology majors could have jobs in hospitals, and I liked my psychology classes. That’s when I changed majors, Dr. Wann became my advisor, and I fell in love with it. The stuff you learn is incredible: you learn why people do everything they do. You’re constantly searching for answers to questions; there are constant changes because it’s human behavior you’re studying. There is so much to study and learn. The faculty definitely helped me fall in love with the program as well because of how passionate they are about what they do.

Work/projects related to your major?

I did my first directed independent study with Dr. Joyce last semester; I looked at the stigma that college students may have on people with physical and intellectual disabilities. I am close to a few people who have disabilities, I’m a part of Best Buddies, and I have worked at a special needs camp. It’s something close to my heart and I try to advocate for those with disabilities whenever possible. I have always been interested in why stigmas happen, and I wanted to see what was happening on college campuses. I studied it and found significant findings and now I’m going to SEPA, a conference where I will present research. I never thought I would love research but now I’m hooked and I’m doing my second directed independent study with Dr. Bordieri. I was in my mental health social work class, and we talked about how there is stigma toward people seeking help. College students really don’t go get help because they are worried about what their friends are going to think. I was wondering about the level of stigma with college students, so I will be looking at college students and their views on other college students seeking mental health treatment.



Recent awards/ honors?

I was on the Dean’s List last year. I also just won the ORCA grant for research, for my first directed independent study with Dr. Joyce. I want to travel to different campuses like UT Martin and collect data so my sample size will have more of a variety. I got accepted to the SEPA conference in Atlanta. I presented at Scholars Week last semester and I received runner up for best poster for an undergraduate. I just got this interview, which I view as an honor.


Future plans:

I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching about what I really want to do. I thought of clinical psychology and graduate school. We went on a field trip last semester to the mental hospital, and I loved it. People work there and see all these different kind of mental disorders. I took clinical with Dr. Karlsson and got to see how everything worked and the processes of it all. So I thought maybe I could do this, so I went and talked to some of the professors and asked them what I could do. They told me I could do assessments and work in a children’s hospital and build programs to help with their anxiety or work in a mental hospital. So for two weeks I thought about it and decided it was what I wanted to do. I have applied to the Clinical Psychology Graduate Program at Murray State University, and if I don’t get in then I’ll probably take a year off and try again. That’s my master plan and after that I’ll probably live here in Kentucky or Tennessee and try to work at a children’s hospital or mental hospital.


“Brighton is an outstanding student who shines in the classroom and goes beyond course requirements.  She displays strong leadership potential as president of the psychology club and promise as a researcher having working with several different faculty members on independent research projects.  I enjoy working with Brighton as she brings her enthusiasm and genuine intellectual curiosity to all aspects of her work.”

-Michael Bordieri (Psychology Professor)


“Brighton is truly an exceptional person.  She is a dedicated and independently-driven student and researcher.  I’m consistently impressed with her commitment to the department through her leadership in the Psychology Club, her hard work and success in research, her dedication to conference travel, and more.  It’s been a pleasure to have the opportunity to work with her these last several semesters.”

– Amanda Joyce (Psychology Professor)


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