“If I got the chance to spend my life working to help others, I could not be more rewarded.”
FSU honors psychology student advocates for research and mental health on campus
Major: Psychology and Classical Civilizations
Graduation: Spring 2019
Florida State University junior Julia Gorday has always had a passion for psychology and that keen interest led her to incredible opportunities at Florida State.
“I found FSU’s psychology department to be very impressive,” Gorday said. “The other schools I looked at didn’t have psychology departments that put as much time and dedication into their students.”
The native of Palm Beach, Fla., was also drawn to FSU’s status as a preeminent research university. Beginning her first semester, Gorday dove headfirst into researching, getting involved in FSU’s Center for Undergraduate Research and Engagement and the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP).
“Florida State is a nurturing environment that allowed my passion for research to flourish,” said Gorday, a double major in psychology and classical civilizations.
The honors student holds research assistant positions in three different labs focusing on anxiety, stress management and suicide research.
Gorday also serves as a lab coordinator in the developmental anxiety lab for her research mentor, Alexandria Meyer, assistant professor of psychology.
“Julia has been an enormous help in the lab,” Meyer said. “She has demonstrated enthusiasm and skill that is well beyond the average undergraduate student. Given her dedication and intellect, I am sure that Julia will be a superstar graduate student someday.”
Gorday said this role gave her great leadership experience in learning to coordinate and run a research lab. It also propelled her to pursue her own research projects.
She has earned two grants, an IDEA grant and the Mark A. Berkley Award from the psychology department, to further her research on her project titled, “Examining Characteristics of Worry in Relation to Depression, Anxiety and Suicidal Ideation.”
In this research, Gorday worked with another research mentor, Megan Rogers, a graduate student in the Department of Clinical Psychology. They investigated why people worry and how that emotion relates to anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation by examining the relationships between these disorders. The two are currently working on a paper about her research that they plan to submit to a research journal for publication.
“Julia has been a tremendous asset to my research over the past year,” Rogers said. “I have been fortunate in having her involved in several of my studies and I look forward to helping her further develop as a scholar and researcher over the next couple of years. I cannot speak highly enough about her work.”
While Gorday excels academically — she has made the Dean’s List and President’s List multiple times — her plate is also full of many extracurricular activities.
A liaison and treasurer for Student Council for Undergraduate Research and Creativity (SCURC), Gorday serves as an advocate and spokesperson for undergraduate research to the Student Government Association. She was also a mental health ambassador for the Honors Student Association where she ensured there were plenty of resources, events and activities promoting the mental health of students in the honors program.
Her substantial involvement on campus and promoting causes that she cares about has inspired her to succeed in the psychology field.
“Knowing that all the work goes toward expanding the general body of knowledge in my field helps get me through the tough days,” Gorday said. “Being in this environment with such hard workers and people I aspire to be like has shown me it is possible to get there one day — I just have to work for it.”
Gorday said one of her biggest accomplishments at FSU was serving as an Honors Colloquium Leader, which gave her the opportunity to lead a class of honors freshman students as a peer instructor.
“I made an effort to reinforce the idea that their learning and academic experiences are in their hands,” Gorday said. “Encouraging learning and knowledge in Florida State’s students has become something I am very passionate about, and I will continue to work to impact FSU’s community for as long as I am a part of the student body and possibly after.”
After graduation, Gorday plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, specializing in anxiety disorders and development. Ultimately, she hopes to work in a university psychology department as both a professor and researcher.
“I would love for my career to utilize my newfound passion for teaching, as well as research,” Gorday said. “I would like to lead a research lab and discover and publish new information to benefit the public. If I got the chance to spend my life working to help others, I could not be more rewarded.”
Gorday thanks FSU for giving her the encouragement to be the person she is today and for showing her what potential she has for the future.
“I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that Florida State has offered me,” Gorday said. “I’m happy that I chose to attend this university.”
By Ali Buis, University Communications Intern
Produced by the offices of Information Technology Services, the Provost, Student Affairs, Undergraduate Studies and University Communications.