Lozier's Passion For Life To Take Her To Nepal On Virginia Tech University Honors Scholarship

BLACKSBURG, Va., May 7, 2003 – Leah Lozier's passion for life pushes back any walls that limit learning, experiencing, or gleaning new perspectives from books, events, life itself.

Lozier, a sophomore at Virginia Tech working on a major in psychology and a minor in Classical Studies, will have the opportunity of a lifetime to expand her own world view when she visits Nepal as part of the $10,000 Virginia Tech University Honors Scholarship. One of the stipulations is that at least $4,000 be used in a unique travel experience "that enriches the meaning of knowledge." That seems fitting, since Lozier, a resident of Oak Hill, Va., has spent her entire life seeking the enrichment that comes from knowledge and experience, preferring the more difficult road to understanding over the easier road to a grade.

Lozier is pursuing a course of study that will lead to a specialty in neuropsychological research, particularly in the field of degenerative and neurological diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and schizophrenia. When people ask Lozier why she chose psychology, her answer is "Why anything else?" "It is difficult to put into words the mix of passion, excitement, fear, and anxiety inherent in this field, and the immense satisfaction of knowledge and discovery that such a young science can provide for an eager student," she wrote. Her desire to help shape the young science of psychology and to save lives receives a boost each time she learns about such things as "the complexities of the human brain, the precision of neural transmission and such discoveries as the MMPT model for Parkinson's disease, and the Dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia."

"To look into one's brain and interpret behavior in terms of synaptic activity and structural differences, and to change that through behavioral therapy and pharmacological methods is a chance to enhance the quality of life for countless individuals," she wrote.

A question even more people ask is "why classics"? Why not a major in psychology and a minor in chemistry or biology? Lozier's answer: "Learning about the history, philosophy, art, literature and other aspects of some of the earliest and most influential civilizations of the world illuminates the present in ways nothing else can." Classical studies provide a different perspective from the scientific viewpoint and make her life more complete.

Books, she wrote, "have permanently affected the way I think about myself, my world, and my passions." Classical literature, obscure literature, even leisurely reading can change one's life, she said. A scientific article about why we laugh when someone tickles us inspired her to read more about psychology. A novel inspired her to be creative in writing and art. And The Iliad caused "the ancient {to} come alive" for her. A book, she said, "changes the reader in important ways that are often realized only much later."

She credits her openness to new cultures to growing up in a military family and being a minority in Spanish-speaking Puerto Rico for awhile, which caused her to have to deal with two completely different cultures at once. "At a very young age I learned tolerance, patience, compassion, and to respect that not everyone in the world lives as I do," she said.

"She is open minded and aware that she has more to learn," said Terry Papillon, a classics professor. "She sees that fact that she has more to learn not as a weakness but as a treat for the future and a way to make herself better for others."

The Honors Scholarship, which provides funds for school costs plus travel experience, requires that one be of the highest quality in "intellectual and moral life." For her travel experience, Lozier will work in and around Kathmandu, Nepal, in the summer of 2004, taking first some classes to help her adapt to life there and know the "manners" of the country. She will stay with a Nepalese family and volunteer at a school for underprivileged children. She will teach at an orphanage--English and anything else about America that the students want to learn.

Through Nepal Sanctuary Treks and the Nepal Cultural Experience Program, she will travel around Nepal and into Tibet. She will return "to culture shock and minority status," which she says will be "arduous but rewarding and {will} foster further growth and understanding of the multi-faceted world in which we live."

Lozier chose the Nepal-Tibet area in part because of her desire to encounter the Eastern religions that "are represented as philosophies for living and ingrained into the daily lives of the individuals who live in these areas." "The idea of a personalized life philosophy for expressing spirituality and guiding one's actions struck deeply, and a desire to experience a culture in which this was the norm grew," she said.

Her treks will take her into the Himalayas and into Tibet, just enough out of her comfort zone to fulfill her desire to experience life the way others do. "I am a passionate person---about psychology, classics, reading. But perhaps most importantly, I am passionate about the impact of a full life and education, and the value of every experience this world has to offer.