The Charger Blog

Winter Graduate Looks Forward to Pursuing Doctorate and Continuing Research

Meet Olufunke Benson ’21 M.A., who will be recognized at the University’s virtual Winter Commencement later this month. She is grateful for the many opportunities she had to get involved in the University and local communities.

January 8, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Olufunke Benson ’21 M.A.
Olufunke Benson ’21 M.A.

Olufunke Benson ’21 M.A. was very active during her time as a graduate student at the University of New Haven. As she reflects on her time as a Charger, she is grateful for the many experiences she had to grow and make new connections.

Benson, who was known in the University community as “Funke,” enjoyed connecting with her classmates in and out of the classroom, as well as with her professors. She will officially be awarded her master’s degree in community psychology during the University’s Virtual Winter Commencement on January 23.

“My favorite memories as a Charger mainly involve the people I have met,” she said. “The memories I have of the acquaintances and friends I have made, who in one way or another have made this time memorable, are memories I will always cherish. I am thankful to the professors, colleagues, and friends I have met on my journey who have made this experience one of the best of my life.”

Immersing herself in research opportunities, Benson interned at two sites during the Fall 2019 semester. A research assistant in the Belief, Learning, & Memory Lab at the Yale School of Medicine, she examined the neural basis of human associative learning and belief formation, relating these processes to the formation of delusional beliefs. She also served as a case management intern at Christian Community Action, a nonprofit organization that provides emergency services to the homeless population in New Haven.

“Being a part of these organizations and taking part in these activities has helped me grow as an individual and as a professional,” said Benson, who has also volunteered with New Haven Reads. “I am forever grateful for these experiences.”

‘I had many opportunities’

Benson, who also completed an independent study on the impact of COVID-19 on college students, earned the Community Psychology program’s annual award for excellence in community psychology research. Last June, she presented her work on developing a sense of community among international students as part of a virtual conference. She used the University’s African Graduate Student Association as a case study.

Benson is looking forward to furthering her education, and she plans to pursue her doctorate in a clinical-community psychology program. She is also continuing her research, which focuses on issues such as racial health disparities, culturally informed interventions that promote individual mental health and well-being, and psychosocial and contextual stressors on mental health outcomes.

“The University has provided me with the necessary skills and training to be successful in my career and in life,” she said. “I had many opportunities that enabled me to learn from colleagues and leaders in the field, as well as networking opportunities that helped me grow my network.”