Alexzander “A.J.” Hudson CC ’13 can say he was accepted to the College twice. Though offered admission the first time he applied, he was unable to enroll due to a last-minute problem and matriculated at The George Washington University instead. A year later, on a whim, he reapplied to the College again and was thrilled to be accepted a second time.
“I wanted the most challenging city in the world and the most challenging school in the world and they are both here,” says Hudson.
The Indianapolis native made the most of his second chance at a College education. Honored as a Senior Marshal, Hudson majored in psychology with a concentration in sociology — “I love understanding how thoughts work, how they are processed and where certain things arise in the brain,” he says — and was among the 10 percent of the graduating class initiated into The Phi Beta Kappa Society.
In October 2011, Hudson helped start a Columbia chapter of Active Minds, a national nonprofit that raises awareness about mental health among college students. “Our programming revolves around explaining the common mental illnesses that are in the popular dialect, which people don’t know as much about as they think they do,” says Hudson, who also joined the University’s NAACP chapter upon arriving in the College. This year, Hudson was recognized for his extracurricular efforts with the King’s Crown Leadership Excellence Award in health and wellness from Columbia Student Affairs, which recognizes students who “exemplify the spirit of caring for and about the members of our vast and diverse community.”
Hudson’s fascination with the human mind led him to pursue several psychology research opportunities in his senior year. With funding from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, he took a role as a research assistant at the Earth Institute’s Center for Research on Environmental Decisions (CRED). His initial task was to review “The Psychology of Climate Change Communication,” the center’s guide on how to effectively inform the public of issues such as global warming. Hudson now is conducting independent research at CRED on the motivating factors behind prosocial behaviors such as recycling. Since October, he also has recruited subjects for a study at the Mailman School of Public Health that examines the use of mobile dating applications among gay men.
This fall, Hudson will begin a stint as a science teacher at a public middle school in Brooklyn through Teach for America. He hopes to enter a Ph.D. program in which he can study the intersection of psychology and education. “I want to get some perspective and I feel there’s a lot I can learn by teaching at a middle school,” says Hudson, whose long-term goal is to “pursue social policy for education using psychology research.”
- Nathalie Alonso CC ’08