By Kelsey Robinson ’17
What is the first thing that comes to mind when someone thinks about Dr. Marie LePage? Is it how passionate she is about sharing her love of psychology with her students? Is it her sky-high heels – which have earned her the reputation of a fashion icon on campus? The answer may vary depending on who you ask – but students and faculty alike agree that this smartly-dressed, compassionate and knowledgeable professor is a truly deserving recipient of this year’s Kathryn Amelia Brown Award.
The recipient of Converse’s Kathryn Amelia Brown Teaching Award is nominated by their professional peers. Dr. LePage was nominated by the Psychology Department Chair, Dr. Monica McCoy. Dr. McCoy’s letter of nomination was a rave review of Dr. LePage, from her availability to meet with students to graciously accepting the role of advisor with ease and grace, even going so far as picking up ten new advisee students and two classes after another professor’s unexpected departure. “With all that she does for Converse, I am amazed that she is still smiling and full of energy at the end of the week,” Dr. McCoy said. “She is an inspiration. I feel lucky to have her as a colleague.”
“She is the most fashionable person I know.”
Dr. LePage’s classroom disposition is not the only thing that is memorable about Dr. LePage. As demonstrated at Opening Convocation, her sky-high heels have become a thing of legend around campus. The very person who nominated Dr. LePage suggested that she should give a speech entitled “Don’t wear heels unless you can walk in them.” Dr. LePage said, “While I certainly consider myself a bit of an expert on heels, I wasn’t sure I could stretch 10 minutes out of that, even by turning it into an analogy for trying to be someone you’re not. Still though, it’s good advice, and something to keep in mind. Be yourself.”
What many students don’t know about Dr. LePage is that she has an extensive background in musical theatre. “I got involved in musical theatre because I loved singing,” Dr. LePage said. “ My voice teacher encouraged me to start auditioning for shows. It was terrifying at first, but I enjoyed being in the productions. My hatred for auditions is the primary reason I am a psychologist though.The weird thing is once I’ve been cast in something I’m quite confident. I just worry about messing up in that audition. I never really got over that!”
“She is an inspiration. I feel lucky to have her as a colleague.”
While Dr. Lepage is certainly entertaining, both onstage and off, it is her actions inside the classroom and interacting with students which set her apart from all others. As a teacher, Dr. LePage’s passion and expertise is admired by her students. “She gets everyone involved with discussions and cares about what we have to say as students, which not only helps us to be engaged and learn, but also teaches us respect,” said Mariah Elliott ‘16.
Adding to her admirable qualities is that Dr. LePage isn’t afraid to let her students and colleagues see her edges. Dr. LePage described how she felt about receiving the Kathryn Amelia Brown Teaching Award during her acceptance speech: “My initial response was shock, which gave way to joy and gratitude, which was quickly usurped by overpowering dread.” Dr. LePage went on to say that she was afraid she’d have nothing interesting to say during her speech and was concerned that people may begin to question her credentials. She posed this question to the audience: “Ever been in a situation where you doubted your own competence to do something despite evidence to the contrary?” By allowing us some insight into her own wavers in confidence, Dr. LePage allowed us to see both her vulnerability and courageousness.
It’s not only in the classroom that Dr. LePage shines; she also maintains a psychology practice. “I admire the fact that Dr. LePage takes the time and effort to maintain professional licensure and to see clients in addition to all she does for Converse,” Dr. McCoy said. “I think it is important for clinical psychologists to stay active in administering therapy, but this is a difficult demand on top of a time-consuming job as a professor.”
All of these characteristics combined leads to students who are majorly impacted and discover a deep love for psychology.
Psychology student Ashley Maiorana said, “I took a cognitive behavioral therapy course with her in the fall of my sophomore year, which was when I really started developing a relationship with her as a faculty mentor. She has helped me cultivate my love for psychology, and has helped me grow in my ability as a student, writer, and researcher. She has prepared me for graduate school and beyond. Dr. LePage is a great professor and role model and always encourages me to push farther and strive to reach my goals. I am forever grateful to have met such an inspiring woman.”
“It should be mandatory to take a psych class with her!”
These sentiments are shared by Mariah Elliot: “It should be mandatory to take a psych class with her! I never really expected to be a psychology major. I found the subject quite interesting, but I knew after her first class, this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. She sparked my interest in Forensic Psychology my freshman year, and since then, I have taken 4 other psychology classes with her.
She pushed me to do my best in my classes, and also recruited me to her research team which will help me succeed in my future. I have her to thank so much for my years at Converse and nobody truly deserves this award as much as she does.”
As clearly demonstrated by both the faculty and students, Dr. LePage is a beloved professor here at Converse. Her love for her field translates to the students she reaches on a daily basis. She helps students discover a love for Psychology that they did not know they could have, and of course makes sure all her students know not to wear heels that you cannot walk in.