Amanda Macindoe's high school experience fluctuated between a prep school in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and a public high school in east Texas. Macindoe said in Texas she stuck out like a sore thumb: "There were zillions of stars at night and about that many pickup trucks in the Dairy Queen parking lot." In the ninth grade, she remembers, she was the only girl without Big Hair. In addition, Macindoe had big ideas. "There's just as many intelligent people in Naples, Texas, as there are in other parts of the country, but there is no emphasis put on education. There is so much unfulfilled potential. I think that's one of the saddest things."

At Reed, Macindoe has certainly found her potential. She's not wavered from the academic path she set for herself as a freshman. She will graduate in May with a degree in psychology. But her career ambitions have changed dramatically. Macindoe once considered becoming a psychiatrist; now she wants to be a high school teacher, possibly teaching Spanish.

She has a mission, developed from her own high school experience and from what she has learned about adolescence in her psychology classes. Armed with her education and her natural compassion for others, she believes she can make a difference by building the self-esteem of teenagers.

"Through my coursework in psychology I realized that adolescence is a really critical time for people. If I can just get in there and give the message, 'You can do it, you have the ability.' If I can instill young people with that message as they go through this rocky course, then I'll be happy. I think if there were better teachers in the world, the world would be a better place."

The topic of her thesis is the phenomenon of self-handicapping: how people justify their failings by blaming an external situation, rather than taking responsibility. The tendency to self-handicap can be influenced by critical attitudes of parents and teachers. Macindoe believes that the better her understanding is of self-defeating strategies, the more influential she can be in helping young students avoid them.

After she graduates she plans to take the G.R.E. in psychology, but she'll hold off for a while in applying to graduate schools. Her immediate plan is to travel to South America in the fall, return to Portland in the spring, and work or volunteer at a school.

Looking back on her first impressions of Reed as a freshman, Macindoe said, "It's definitely an intense environment, which I expected. There are lots of nice people but there are definitely times when I think it's a love-hate relationship. As much as you love it, you sometimes think, 'Oh, if I'd only left my sophomore or junior year!' But I didn't because there was obviously something here.

"The teachers are just incredibly dedicated. I love the open door policy. I really do appreciate that kind of a personal environment. I think if I'd gone to a larger school it may have been easier, but I don't think I would have felt quite as satisfied."

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