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Karen Blair '99

Assistant Professor of Psychology, St. Francis Xavier University

(Focus, Fall/Winter 2017-2018)
“After graduating from SJR, I went to the University of Guelph for my undergraduate degree, where I took a double major in Criminal Justice & Public Policy and Psychology. After Guelph, I went to Acadia University where I completed a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. While there, I fell in love with research and began a longitudinal study of social support, relationships and health, which is still running today! I completed my Ph.D. in Social Psychology at Queen’s University in 2012 and then went to the University of Utah for a three-year post-doc funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In 2015, I was hired as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. As a professor at StFX, I teach Social Psychology, the Social Psychology of the Holocaust and the History of Psychology.

Attending SJR from Grade 8 to 12 gave me a head start when I arrived at university. Not only did I already have some credits under my belt from AP English and AP Psychology, but I also found that the rigorous expectations at SJR had well-prepared me for independent learning at university. My writing and study skills were far beyond those of my peers, and to this day, I have only written one university exam (my Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination) that came remotely close to the challenge of one of Mark Duncan’s English exams.”

What advice would you give to current students at SJR?

“I would recommend that students explore a variety of opportunities when selecting a university. I had the privilege of studying at all three types of Canadian Universities (Medical/Doctoral, Comprehensive, Primarily Undergraduate) and each type has its strengths and weaknesses. Some of the obvious choices when thinking of Canada’s ‘best’ universities might not be the best fit for you, so it is important to explore the variety of programs offered at each university and the different types of resources and learning experiences that might be available at each type of institution. If your career goals involve something that will require graduate training, then you may want to think strategically about where to begin your studies, as students are often encouraged to complete their various degrees at different institutions. If you already have a particular institution in mind for your doctoral research, you may want to pick a different institution for your undergraduate degree! At the same time, it is also important not to fret and stress too much over this decision. One of the best things about going to university in Canada is that you can be assured of a high-quality undergraduate education no matter which institution you select. Transitioning to university is an exciting time. As an SJR graduate, you will probably find that you are one or two steps ahead of your peers when you begin university. While other students will be learning new study skills and the art of writing an essay, you will likely already have these skills mastered, leaving you more time to focus on discovering your new intellectual passions and challenging yourself to make the most of each learning opportunity that presents itself.”
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St. John’s-Ravenscourt School was founded in 1820 principally to serve the children of the Selkirk settlers. By 1834 there were forty students, evenly split between boys and girls. SJR has inevitably grown and changed over the years since, though its success throughout has been unimpeachable. We have graduated 18 Rhodes scholars, for example, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted patronage and established a scholarship in her name in 1981. Today the programs are as strong as our reputation. A strong academic program is paired with an equally strong attention to the values of stewardship, ethical leadership, and excellence in all areas of academic, social and athletic life.