Rising star Breana Moser ’17 commits to mental health field and Clemson U


The word ‘student’ does not touch the intensity of Breana Moser. During her four years on campus, the LEC community knew Moser as a palpable presence, a mover and shaker – a rising star.

Dr. Susan Culotta, associate professor of psychology, explained, “In class, Bre sat in the front row and would follow lectures as she followed along in her text – comparing and contrasting information and, as appropriate, debating.”

Her extraordinary research and writing skills earned her the distinguished Lake Erie College Academic Excellence Award for the School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences in 2017. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Moser, 22, recently graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science with a major in psychology and a minor in biology.

For Moser, Lake Erie College was the springboard for her high aspirations. Nearly two years before graduation, she began the graduate program application process, preparing with clinical precision - sitting for exams, finding the perfect letters of recommendation, laboring over essays and attending interviews.

“Statistically speaking, a small number of people are chosen among hundreds who apply for each program, so I knew I would have to work hard to make my application stand out,” she said. That tough mindset carried her through months of little sleep. After her first acceptance letter arrived in the mail, they just kept coming. Relief turned to disbelief.

A whopping seven graduate programs in Counseling-Clinical Mental Health or in Clinical Psychology accepted Moser’s application. Villanova University, Boston College, Clemson University, University of Miami (FL), Xavier University, the University of Akron, and the University of Colorado, Denver validated her hard work. Ultimately, she chose Clemson University in South Carolina, where she will attend classes in the fall of 2017.

“The application process was one of the toughest obstacles I’ve ever had to face in my life, but the support from professors, family, and friends helped push me to achieve that goal,” she said.

Moser benefitted from hands-on experiences during a semester-long internship at the Lake County Court of Common Pleas under the Honorable Judge Culotta in 2015, a placement made possible thanks to connections forged at Lake Erie College. Sitting in the front row of court cases and working with notable Lake County judges and lawyers, she quickly caught on to the criminal justice system. She observed the inner-workings of criminal, civil and juvenile courts and the role of court psychologists in particular, and she developed the requisite professional skills to work in the criminal justice system and rehabilitation facilities.

Since the spring of 2016, she has been a qualified mental health specialist at Ravenwood Health Transitional Living Center, where she assists with residential care, suicide prevention, and crisis intervention for clients experiencing mental health-related issues.

For psychology majors, research is another key component. Moser assisted former Lake Erie professor Dr. Susan Blankenship with her research at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation - Citizen Circle in Lake County. Writing literature reviews for the criminal offender reentry program, transcribing interviews and discussing research helped Moser grow as a budding professional.

During her research methods course and senior research seminar advised by Dr. Stephen Yachanin, professor of psychology, Moser designed two research projects. She collected and analyzed data from recruited participants. Finally, she presented her research manuscripts, “Creating False Memory in a Visual Context through Priming and Association” and “Visual Exposure to Workplace Fluency & Disfluency and Implications on Cognitive Thinking,” to a board of professors.

“The research process is very challenging, yet very rewarding. I was initially daunted by the idea of a semester long project, but by the end I became an expert in the fields that I chose to research,” said Moser.

Moser bit into more ripe opportunities for professional development and networking. She was a student affiliate of the American Psychological Association and a member of Psi Chi, the International Society in Psychology. In addition, she learned de-escalation techniques, multiculturalism, suicide prevention, client rights and grievances, and ethics through training and seminars at Ravenwood. To smooth her entry into graduate school, she also attended the Graduate Student Recruitment Program through the Ohio State University Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

As a member of the Lake Erie College women’s lacrosse team, she earned First-team All-conference in 2016. Further, she served her community through the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), helping to raise an annual $1,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and working with the Salvation Army. On campus, she tutored psychology and statistics for four semesters. Peers of various learning levels took advantage of her effective instruction.

Donors may rest assured that Bre Moser fully capitalized on their investment in her. She received many scholarships, including the Lake Erie College Leadership Scholarship, Dr. Lynde Steckle Scholarship, the James F. Lincoln Memorial Scholarship and the Paul Weaver Alumni Scholarship. She made the Dean’s List every semester.

Learning time management skills empowered her for this success. Some days, she woke up at 5:00 a.m. for lacrosse practice and stayed up until after midnight to squeeze in work, tutoring sessions, class and extra projects, among other things. Do the math. “It’s true that I was constantly busy, but now I feel very prepared to handle anything that life throws at me. If there are enough hours in the day (or night), I will find a way!” said Moser.

Lake Erie College’s homey atmosphere clinched Moser’s decision to attend. “As soon as you walk on campus there is a ‘family’ feel that you don’t have at other schools,” she said. “The faculty, staff and (of course) my fellow students were the highlight of my college experience.”

How can the class of 2021 share her success? “Be the type of student that professors want to teach, the athlete that players can look up to, and the classmate that makes everyone’s day a little brighter,” she said. “Be the type of energy that no matter where you go, you always add value to the spaces and lives around you.”

Lake Erie’s small community enables students to set the tone. Those like Moser introduce a level of rigor and commitment that makes waves. “Bre is a very special student and even more so, a very special person, who we greatly admire and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to know,” said Dr. Culotta.

Her research advisor, Dr. Yachanin, said, “Breana’s exceptional academic qualities and skills will serve her well in graduate school and throughout her career. I am equally certain that her inner strength, quiet confidence, uncommon courage, and well-grounded sense of self will serve her well throughout her life and the lives of those she will touch.”

These mentors helped Moser discover her passions. They kept up with her progress at every turn. Dr. Yachanin, she said, is a favorite among Lake Erie students for his “witty sense of humor and down-to-earth personality.” Moser said of Dr. Culotta, who provided her with internship opportunities, that she “always welcomed me into her office with open arms.” Our involved faculty take a personal interest in their students’ journeys. They encourage students to share their talents.

One such talent, a ferocity on the lacrosse field, offered Moser the chance to develop leadership skills. In sport and in life, she learned to gather her team to overcome obstacles. With a team attitude, she strove for improvement personally and professionally. Lake Erie empowers graduates to lead. Moser’s temporary sacrifices will surely shape enduring principles of compassionate, effective treatment in her field.

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