Student earns top psychology award
Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 22:03
University of Southern Mississippi doctoral student Kayla Moorer has received recognition from the Southeastern Psychological Association’s (SEPA) Committee on Equality for Professional Opportunity (CEPO) for her research on alcohol-related sexual experiences amongst college women.
The Laurel, Miss. native was awarded first place in SEPA’s Graduate Student Research on Women category after submitting research obtained through her master’s thesis, titled “Alcohol consumption and unwanted sexual experiences in college females: The mediating role of protective behavioral strategies.”
“This award has given me the opportunity to share the value of safe drinking,” said Moorer. “College students like to drink. That’s okay, but there are little things they can do while drinking in order to prevent experiencing the commonly associated consequences.”
Moorer’s years of interest on the alcohol-related topic led her to discover the connection between unwanted sexual experiences and the long-term, damaging psychological impact such activities can create, something she hopes to help prevent.
With the percentage of alcohol-consuming college women beginning to rise, Moorer firmly believes that participating in safe drinking practices can improve the experience of a woman’s social experience and prevent her from being stuck in an undesirable situation.
“By going home with a friend, avoiding riding with someone who has been drinking, and knowing where your drink is at all time, college women can enjoy the ‘fun’ aspects of drinking while potentially avoiding unwanted sexual experiences,” Moorer said.
Licensed psychologist and USM Associate Professor of counseling psychology Michael Madson said Moorer’s research brings awareness to a very pressing, often ignored issue on college campuses nationwide and praised the student for her successful contribution to the university’s College Alcohol Research Team.
“Her work has practical and scientific value, and it was very exciting to learn of Kayla’s selection for this award,” said Madson. “Recognition of her work this early in her career shows that the sky is the limit for her.”
Moorer’s award-winning research gives her the opportunity to present these discoveries at SEPA’s annual conference held in Atlanta March 13-16.
“The take home message is that drinking doesn’t have to be an ‘all or nothing’ kind of thing,” Moorer said. “Drinking can be a fun, social activity, and college women do not have to miss out on the fun to stay safe.”
For more information on college student drinking and harm reduction or the Southern Miss College Alcohol Research Team, contact Michael Madson at Micahel.Madson@usm.edu.