Students Travel to Disney World, Study Psychology, Guest Treatment

Ely Cook

Psychology professors Dr. Marcie Coulter-Kern and Dr. Rusty Coulter-Kern had a “magical” January Session while taking Manchester University students to Disney World.

Marcie Coulter-Kern is a professor of psychology at Manchester University. She attended Notre Dame University, where she received her MS in counseling psychology and developmental psychology, as well as her PhD in developmental psychology. She worked as a licensed clinical social worker in private practice for about 10 years and has been teaching at Manchester University for 22 years. During that time she has taken her students to places such as Hawaii, France and Jamaica to study psychology.

Together with her husband and psychology colleague Dr. Rusty Coulter-Kern, Marcie Coulter-Kern took her students to Disney World over January. “I think students were really excited and had a great time,” she said. “In fact, they were up before we were. They were at the park ready to be at the rope drop, which is the first opening of the park of the day, and you get to be the first people on the rides.”

All was not fun and games, as one of their primary educational focuses was on a book called “Be Our Guest”, written by Michael D. Eisner, former chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Corporation. “It is focused on the Disney model that emphasizes respectful treatment of employees, patrons, and customers by calling them guests,” Marcie Coulter-Kern said. “It shifts the focus from ‘you’re not just a person consuming here; you’re a person we are going to provide our best treatment for,’ and we had students who applied that to their experience at Manchester after reading it.”

Apart from this study, the class did workshops days like team building and held gather times before going off to do their own things. Marcie Coulter-Kern said her students enjoyed their stay by hopping on rides, buying park food and spending time together. She rode all of the rides as well. “One of my favorite rides was the new Guardians of the Galaxy one, but it kind of made me sick to my stomach,” she said. “However, I think my favorite one overall was the Mickey and Minnie Mouse ride.”

Their time went smoothly overall, but Marcie Coulter-Kern explained that at points it was hard to select groups for the students. “We talked a lot about social ostracism and including people, and sometimes it was hard to find that right fit for the groups,” she said. Her favorite part of the trip was the rope drop at the beginning of the day before getting into the park; many of her students told her that they enjoyed that the most too.

Although she appreciates that Manchester enables January travel, to her, one of the best things about Manchester is the community that surrounds the campus. “We intentionally moved to town, and into town, to build a sense of community,” she said. “It has been the community that we have been most interested in since coming here.” She believes that Manchester is a great place to attend. “Manchester has been an excellent place where students can, especially in psychology, explore different areas of psychology,” she said. “We have had a really strong department, with really strong faculty, who are interested in helping students reach their next step.” For incoming psychology students, she expressed that they should consider here as well. “You have one opportunity in your life to go to a small liberal arts college, where you get to live and learn with a thousand other students just like you, and you never get that opportunity again. You have a lifetime to go to a larger university in a big town, but you only get one shot to connect and be at a university where the focus is on you as an undergraduate.”