Meet Stephanie Wanamaker, ACU Online’s assistant professor and director for the Bachelor of Science in Psychology program. From student to program director, Stephanie has fused her love of understanding others with her passion for education to impact students and prepare them for careers in psychology. As a previous online student herself, Wanamaker understands what resources and tools her students need to flourish and finds it rewarding to help others navigate through her program. Learn what led her to join our Wildcat family and how she’s setting her students up for success beyond their daily assignments.
Pursuing Her Passions
Stephanie became interested in the field of psychology early in life while watching a relative battle with bipolar disorder. Throughout that relationship, she realized she wanted to help others understand mental health better so they can effectively communicate and help support the people who are struggling.
With this goal in mind, Wanamaker received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas Wesleyan University before pursuing a master’s degree in psychology from California Baptist University’s online program. After graduating, Stephanie served as a counselor for youth and families and later worked at a domestic violence shelter where she found her love for administration as their program director. From organizing events, to providing resources and support to families, she realized she wanted to make a bigger impact on students through more advanced leadership positions.
“I believe my work in psychology is fueled by the close proximity I had with my family member who struggled with mental health,” she reflected, “but as I explored psychology more, I found that I had a calling for educating students as well, and enjoyed organizing the curriculums they needed to succeed.”
This realization led her to pursue teaching at undergraduate and graduate levels as a virtual adjunct professor with California Baptist University and Southern New Hampshire University’s psychology programs. In 2020, Stephanie joined ACU Online as the program director and assistant professor for the Bachelor of Science in Psychology program, which has allowed her to work in a more administrative role and provide her with what she calls a “warm environment and work community.”
From Remote Learning to the Real World
Her driving force and goal as a program director is to provide her students with the best overall education and academic experience possible. Because she experienced remote learning during her own master’s program, Stephanie understands the ways her students are juggling their families, careers, and daily life, all while earning a degree.
“I want to make sure I’m providing the best experiences for them while developing them into self-sufficient professionals,” she said. “Helping my students navigate the online format and then seeing their success once they’re out in the real world is very rewarding to me.”
Wanamaker believes her program stands out from other universities because of the time and care that the faculty takes to prepare students for internships, certification tests and earning their licenses – something she wished she would’ve been more educated on after graduating herself.
Another strength of the program is the foundation that the field of psychology offers for working adults, no matter what industry they choose to go into. From counseling to business, a psychology degree provides support in understanding what shapes everyone as individuals. “Learning how to connect with others and being able to grasp how their experiences affect their responses is critical to any job title,” she explained.
Faith and Family
The ways in which ACU has integrated faith into its foundation and curriculum has made a big impact on Stephanie’s experience while working for the university. Coming from an atmosphere where she couldn’t always incorporate her faith within her career, she’s thankful for the ways ACU allows her to pray for students and create a culture based upon faith and community. Using this role as a mission field allows her to make biblical parallels within the curriculum while reaching the university’s goals as a whole.
Another personal benefit Stephanie has found through her position is the flexibility that the online format gives her and her husband, Brian, who welcomed their first daughter to the world in December of 2021. When she’s not working, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family, baking and traveling the world with her husband.
One of the most valuable takeaways Wanamaker wants for her students is how to be proactive professionals after graduation and take the knowledge they have received to make an impact on the world. Want to learn more about how ACU Online’s Bachelor of Science in Psychology program is preparing the next generation of psychology professionals to serve others? Visit acu.edu/online or contact us at 855-219-7300.