Annie Stanfield Ditta is a Southern California native. When it came time to choose a college, she says she lucked out when she learned UCI had a highly ranked cognitive psychology program less than a hundred miles from home. Since arriving on campus, Ditta’s been able to work alongside nationally acclaimed cognitive scientists who study topics she’s passionate about - number concept development in children, group memory in adults, sentence perception in adults through EEG technology, and recovery from spinal cord injury through medical and behavior therapies. She presented a poster about her research at the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) symposium, an experience she found extremely rewarding and one which, with hopes of someday becoming a professor, provided a glimpse into a future she’s very excited about. Ditta is a past recipient of the Alice B. Macy Outstanding Undergraduate Paper Award and this year, she’s been awarded the Social Sciences Alumni Academic Excellence Scholarship, Social Sciences Order of Merit, and Chancellor’s Award of Distinction. Below, learn more about her campus and community involvement.

What would you consider your biggest accomplishment at UCI?
My biggest accomplishments at UCI are the connections I have made with the faculty in the cognitive sciences department. In high school, I was very shy and did not connect with many of my teachers, and in college I figured it would be even worse since the class sizes are so huge. However, I knew I wanted to conduct research in psychology labs, and knew that I would have to talk to professors about volunteer opportunities. Now, I work in four labs and have very good relationships with all of my advisors, even additional faculty in the department. This has helped me with all kinds of things in school and in life, and I am glad to have stepped out of my shell enough to accomplish these connections.

What activities have you been involved in and how have they impacted who you are today?
The life experience that has played the biggest role in making me who I am today is my involvement in Tae Kwon Do. I began when I was in elementary school, and stayed with it for about seven years. I eventually reached second degree black belt before I quit to make time for school. Even after I quit, though, it continued to influence my life in a positive way. My training taught me discipline, self-motivation, and focus, which have all been valuable skills in helping me succeed in college and in life.

In my time at UCI, I joined two clubs and eventually ended up serving as a board member for both of them. I am the education chair for Public Health Brigades at UCI, which is a student-led organization dedicated to empowering rural communities in Honduras. We accomplish this by building public health projects for families in the community, and educating the community members about the importance of maintaining healthy lifestyles. I am also the treasurer for Psi Chi, the International Honors Society in psychology, which focuses on helping psychology’s most promising students find their passions and work towards their ultimate career goals.

Who has played an important role in your life thus far and why?
As cliché as it sounds, the people who have played the most important role in my life are my parents. As an only child, my parents paid a lot of attention to me, and always wanted to make sure that I succeeded in life. They always supported me, no matter what I wanted to do, and encouraged me to, above all else, find what I was passionate about and pursue it. They stressed the importance of finding what makes me happy, regardless of what anyone else thinks. They pushed me to excel and to become the person I am today. And, while I did not have any siblings growing up, I did - and still do - have a lot of animals at my home in Poway. Over the years, I have had donkeys, sheep, fish, chickens, dogs, cats, rats, snakes, a guinea pig, and a rabbit. I can’t imagine life without them all!

-Heather Wuebker, Social Sciences Communications

 

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