For many college students choosing a major is a length and extensive process, but for junior Robert Cooper it was a more unconventional route.
Cooper came to Auburn after being recruited to play football in the fall of 2009. At the time, his major had been biomedical science, but he had not had the chance to consider exactly where he wanted to take it.
After redshirting his freshmen year, Cooper began fall practice for the 2010 season when he sustained a concussion in early August.
“I was so excited to be able to start practicing with the team and have my chance to play,” Cooper said. “During practice we were running punt return drills when I got hit.”
The concussion was so severe that Cooper had to medically withdrawal from school for the semester in order to continue testing for his injury. He spent countless hours visiting specialists and going through intense testing. It was during this time that Cooper decided that the psychology field held a special interest for him.
“Meeting with all of the specialists and going through the different types of testing started to take over my life,” Cooper said. “I was surprised at how engrossed I became with the process. I wanted to know everything I could about what was going on with me.”
In the spring of 2011, Cooper was allowed to resume taking classes, but was told that he would no longer be able to play the game he had dedicated the majority of his life to playing. With more available time to dedicate to school, Cooper immediately changed his major to psychology, eager to learn as much as he could about the field.
“Changing my major to psychology was one of the best decisions that I have made at Auburn,” Cooper said. “In my opinion, Auburn has one of the best programs in the field. My entire experience with the major has been great.”
Cooper feels the experience the psychology department provides to undergraduate students will be invaluable when he advances to graduate school.
“The hands-on opportunities that they give undergrads are unmatched,” Cooper said. “They allow us to get past the textbooks and understand how the different things that we are learning about are affecting real people.”
Beyond gaining research hours in his field, Cooper credits the outstanding help of the psychology department’s faculty to making the program unique.
“The teachers in the psychology department are unlike any that I have had in college,” Cooper said. “You can tell that they want to help you develop as a student and they go the extra step to get you there.”
After graduating Auburn with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Cooper hopes to continue on to graduate school to earn a master’s and doctorate in Neuropsychology.