Bearcat grad says 'push the boundaries'

Transfer student finds her path in neuropsychology at UC

For most students, college is a time to learn and grow — not only academically, but also personally. 

Erin Tepe’s college experience was no exception. The recent University of Cincinnati graduate forged her own path through new opportunities she gained as a Bearcat.

Tepe began her higher education at Bowling Green State University as a neuroscience student. But after two years at BGSU, the Dayton, Ohio, native decided it was time for a change. She transferred to UC and changed her major to neuropsychology. Tepe says she was more interested in the electives UC offered and liked the size of that program, offered in the College of Arts and Sciences. And, she added, Cincinnati is still close to home.

“It was definitely the right choice,” Tepe says on her decision to transfer. “I met a lot more people, and I really liked being in the honors program.”

Erin Tepe poses for a photo in front of a blossoming tree.

Erin Tepe graduated from UC in May.

Through the University Honors Program, Tepe worked as a peer mentor for freshman classes. “I think that working with the younger students helped me build leadership skills, which have definitely carried over into my job now,” says the recent grad.

Because of its proximity to UC’s campus, Tepe volunteered at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for two years as a research assistant. She worked in learning and memory research as well as studying the long-term effects of proton therapy for children with cancer. Tepe recently accepted a full-time position at UC Reading where she is researching the influence of stress on addiction.

“It’s so strange to work an adult job and work 9-to-5 every day,” Tepe says, “but it’s been nice because I’ve gotten to see the startup side of it. I’ve gotten to see what it’s like buying all the equipment and planning the experiments, and I’ll be able to see them carried out and analyze the data. It’s really nice to see the entire process.”

Tepe says she doesn’t yet have a specific dream job in mind, but she knows she wants to work in the medical field and is using her current job to explore different areas of research.

Erin Tepe smiles at the camera seated between her parents.

Tepe (center) smiles for a photo with her parents.

 The honor student is considering graduate school for public health or neuroscience and has even dipped her toes in the field of forensics.

I had to tell myself not to put myself in a box.

UC graduate Erin Tepe

“It’s okay to not be stuck in the typical path you think you need to be in after high school,” Tepe says. “You don’t need to go to the same college for four years. You can graduate early, you can graduate late, you can switch schools, you can change your mind and change it again.

“I had to tell myself not to put myself in a box because that really held me back.”

Coming to these revelations allowed Tepe to thrive in Cincinnati. The transfer student became good friends with her roommates and reached out to other students in her program. Although medical science may be viewed as a typically male-dominated field, Tepe encourages other women to pursue the path.

“I think it’s really important to realize that so many principal investigators and researchers are women now,” Tepe says. “If you have an interest, speak up about it. If you want to learn something, speak up about it. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries.”

Featured image at top: Erin Tepe poses for a photo in front of the Cincinnati skyline. All photos provided.

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