LEARNING THROUGH MENTORSHIP WITH ANNA-LISA COHEN ’85
By Katia Djomo Wongep ’23
Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to meet virtually with Dr. Anna-Lisa Cohen ’85 of Yeshiva University to discuss her career as a professor of psychology. All of this was done through the “Learning Through Mentorships” program at Balmoral Hall, which pairs Grade 11 students with members of the BH family who work in the field they are interested in. Usually, we would be out shadowing our mentors, but this year the majority of our mentorships have been virtual.
Personally, I have always been interested in the health sciences field and knew from a young age it was what I wanted to pursue when I was older. This school year, I have been given the opportunity to narrow down my options by meeting with people in different health science fields. So far, I have met with four alumnae, including Dr. Cohen, and I have learned so much about what life has to offer when my time at BH is over.
During my meeting with Dr. Cohen, she informed me of different psychological studies that she and her students were conducting. One interesting study that one of her students was leading was about the effect that self-projection has on financial risk-taking. In short, the student first asked half the subjects to imagine the positive aspects of winning the lottery and the other half to imagine the negative aspects. Then, the subjects played a balloon game where every time they hit a key on their keyboard, the virtual balloon inflated, and they gained 10 cents. At any point in the game, the balloon could burst, and the subjects would lose the money they gained. The student’s hypothesis was that the subjects who envisioned lottery winning as a positive would be more risk-taking than the subjects who envisioned the opposite. This was interesting to me, because it was a very clever way of combining economics and psychology, two fields that the student is interested in.
Dr. Cohen also shared with me a Washington Post article that she wrote about self-projection to cope with the effects of COVID-19.
Overall, this meeting was very beneficial in helping me determine what I want to do after high school. This time is usually a very stressful one for Grade 11 students. It is great that we have access to mentors who will help us to navigate such important decisions.