By Matt Gergyek
Traleena Rouleau is this year’s winner of the Chancellor’s Medal, awarded annually to a graduating student of outstanding academic achievement.
“It’s definitely bittersweet graduating but it’s really meaningful that the university has something to remember how students have contributed during their time at Carleton,” she said.
Rouleau is graduating with a degree in Psychology with a concentration in Forensic Psychology and a minor in Law. Thirty years ago, her mother, Shannon Cassidy-Rouleau, did nearly the same, walking across the stage at Convocation to receive her Bachelor of Arts Honours in Psychology, also focusing on Law.
“It might run in the family,” she says.
Rouleau focused on the intersection of criminality, the legal system and psychology in her specialization, working out of the Legal Decision-Making Lab. Specifically, her research explored the gendered differences jurors make when they encounter mentally ill defendants or are met with the not criminally responsible (NCR) defence.
Through her research, Rouleau uncovered that men were significantly more likely to express injustice and danger concerns in deliberations with those deemed NCR.
“We can sometimes forget that there’s still underlying attitudes [surrounding mental illness] that are hard to overcome and that can significantly affect someone’s future in a trial context,” she says.
Rouleau’s time on campus has been equally as successful outside the classroom. She has been president of the Psychology Society of Carleton University and worked as a team leader and peer helper with the Centre for Student Academic Support (CSAS). Rouleau also became a mentor in the Psychology Department and psychology workshop facilitator in the Enriched Support Program.
Some of Rouleau’s favourite parts of campus include the tunnel system (especially in the winter) and the easy access to the Rideau Canal, where she often runs off steam and stress.
Rouleau also praised the campus’s rural, isolated feel in the midst of an urban core.
“You definitely get the best of both worlds,” she says.
Rouleau said she hopes to become a clinical psychologist in the near future, taking the first step towards her dream career by pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at the University of Ottawa this fall.
“Our current culture is definitely highlighting a need to better understand mental health and I really wanted to be a part of the support that we offer people,” she says.
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