Donicia Blanton

A future in clinical psychology

Donicia Blanton was offered a full scholarship to Smith College in her home state of Massachusetts, but when she visited LaGrange College during Presidential Scholars Weekend, she was drawn in by the Southern hospitality, the beauty of the campus and the quality of its science programs.

“Originally I really wanted to get away from the snow,” says the double major in biology and psychology. “It’s a 20- to 26-hour drive from my home in Massachusetts to Georgia. When I visited here, I had a couple of schools in mind, not just LaGrange, and I really wasn’t familiar with the culture of the South. But when I visited it for the scholarship competition, my first thought was, ‘I love this place.’ It just sucked me in and shot up to my No. 1 choice.”

Three years later, the junior is not ready to leave.

“It’s kind of sad to think that I will be graduating pretty soon,” she says. “I really love LaGrange College because it has really given me the chance to take advantage of so many things that have enhanced my education. For instance, I never thought I’d be wearing a lab coat as an undergrad and researching protein in cancerous and non-cancerous cells.”

Donicia says she loves not only how her studies differ between the areas of psychology and biology but also enjoys the “a-ha” moments when the two come together, which is why she plans to continue her studies by earning a doctoral degree in psychology to specialize in in-patient clinical psychology. She currently is president of Psi Chi, the college’s psychology honor society, and has had some of her research work published.

“The professors here really teach you to think,” she says. “They don’t hand things to you; they don’t spoon-feed you. It’s a challenge sometimes, but once you overcome that challenge, it’s so satisfying. It’s worth it to really be able to step up and meet the challenges of your professors.”

Donicia considered pursuing her love of dance before she committed to college, as she has practiced jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, liturgical and African dance for 13 years. She toured nationwide in a dance troupe as early as 14 years old and also danced with the Dance Theater of Harlem. She also was invited to tour in Zimbabwe.

 At LaGrange College, Donicia was chosen as one of 12 junior Servant Scholars, who each engage in a year-long internship with a local non-profit agency as part of their service-learning experience. Donicia serves the Boys and Girls Club of West Georgia, where she initiated a dance team last fall for young girls.

“I feel like the program doesn’t just teach the girls how to dance,” she says. “It’s been tailored to help teach them responsibility, how to be prepared, how to step up and better themselves. They’re taught to show up on time, to bring their water bottle and to come with their dance clothes, and if they don’t do those things, they can’t participate for the day. It’s not an effort to be mean, but an effort to teach them how to commit to things, which is a lesson they may not happen to get in the environment they live in.”

Donicia says she has enjoyed seeing the girls grow through the dance experience.

“When they first started and didn’t come prepared, they might just shrug it off and blame someone else,” she says. “But now they realize the consequences of not coming in or not being prepared; they take it upon themselves and apologize and promise to do better. And the next day they come in definitely prepared, even a little bit early sometimes.”

Another Servant Scholar, Alex Rodriguez, began teaching violin and music theory at the Boys and Girls Club when Donicia began the dance program.

“We’re both taking aspects of the arts to the Boys and Girls Club,” she says. “We feel like the kids aren’t just getting a new hobby. They’re getting a taste of culture early in life. Even if they don’t want to become a professional violinist of dancer, it gives them something worthwhile to do, sometime to look forward to and something to be proud of.”

Donicia knows where the children have come from, as she was once a member of the Boys and Girls Club herself as a young child.

“I just hope I bring a bit of positivity to their lives because I know firsthand how much that means to them,” she says. “I went to the Boys and Girls Club when I was young, and I just remember feeling like people didn’t care, that people were giving up on me. It’s important for these girls to see that people care about them and want to spend their time showing them a new skill and not overlooking them.”

Donicia hopes she can continue to be that message of hope in her future career.

“I don’t want to do research in clinical psychology; I want the person-to-person interaction,” she says. “I want to use what I’m applying here at LaGrange, especially in the Servant Scholars program: to look beyond self and use your gifts and tools to make a difference in people’s lives. Even if it’s not that many people, those small differences in just a few people’s lives can culminate into something bigger.”

Friends for the Journey

LaGrange College attracts the best and the brightest from all over the world. For example, our most recent incoming class consisted of men and women from 19 states and 10 countries, and included:

  • 76 members of Beta Club or the National Honor Society
  • 71 members of service organizations
  • 51 team captains in varsity sports
  • 25 leaders involved in student government, with 11 presidents
  • Three students involved in school publications, one as editor
  • Two Eagle Scouts
  • 20 musicians in band or orchestra
  • 18 singers in choir
  • 31 entertainers in performing arts
  • 85 students in religious activities.

But you don’t have to be a star in high school to succeed at LaGrange. Here, you’re given the opportunity to discover the best in yourself and find your destiny – all in a caring and supportive environment.