#BecomeTheChange – Annie Utterback

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“I feel like I am unafraid now. I feel like I can do whatever comes my way.”

These powerful words come from senior Annie Utterback as she reflects on her time at Allegheny and the experiences she has had.

Utterback, a psychology major and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies minor from Pittsburgh, credits a combination of experiences through the Allegheny Gateway for allowing her to feel like she can conquer the world.

As an example, Utterback serves as a Davies community service leader through the Civic Engagement Office, meaning she is part of a program that allows Allegheny students to work with local organizations. For her Davies project, Utterback is in her second year working with a local organization called Meadville Time Trade.

“Meadville Time Trade helps to build community through networking. It’s comparable to volunteering, but when you volunteer through Meadville Time Trade, you get credit for it,” Utterback explains. “So if I spend an hour walking a dog, I get an hour of credit. And if I need a ride to the store, I can use my dog-walking credit for that purpose.

“My job is to help spread the word about Meadville Time Trade and get the campus community more involved,” she adds. “It’s about showing the community that everyone’s time and skills are equal. It’s also about helping to connect the College and the Meadville community.”

In addition to her work with Meadville Time Trade, Utterback also participated in a local Alternative Spring Break (ASB) experience during her sophomore year through the Civic Engagement Office. ASB trips are weeklong, issue-focused trips that give students service experiences in their local community or in other parts of the country. She also worked at the local middle school tutoring two seventh-grade girls through the Martin Luther King, Jr. Mentoring Program.

“These opportunities allowed me to work with a group of people who didn’t really know each other from different parts of campus,” she says. “I think it is important for us to get out of the Allegheny bubble. It’s good to meet different people in the community, work with those who may be different from ourselves and hear different stories and perspectives.”

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Although Utterback spends a large portion of her energy giving back, she also has found time to conduct psychology research under the direction of Associate Professor Aimee Knupsky. This research allowed her to stay on campus last summer to work in Allegheny’s eye-tracking lab, where she now serves as lab manager.

“I am interested in seeing how emotion recognition is different across genders,” Utterback says. “This project, which is now translating to my senior comp, has allowed me to discover that research can be much more than just chemistry or biology. Research can be really anything; if you can come up with a research question, you can make it happen.”

Also contributing to Utterback’s fearless mindset is an internship she had during the summer between her sophomore and junior years. During the experience, she served as a literacy teacher for grades K-5 for a nonprofit organization in Harlem, N.Y.

“I planned lessons and taught different topics while also planning field trips across the city,” she says. “It was interesting, because it is a totally different environment living alone in the city versus living in the tiny world of a liberal arts college. The experience showed me that I can do anything.”

In the future, Utterback hopes to attend graduate school and eventually become a professor in psychology or sociology. She says her Allegheny experiences are what helped to shape these aspirations.

“When I came to Allegheny, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life,” she says. “Now I’m excited for the next chapters and what the future will bring.”