In Pursuit of Gratitude - Giving to UVA

In Pursuit of Gratitude

Cassondra Chadwell (Wise ‘15)

Do you appreciate what you have? Are you thankful for the people in your life? Do you express gratitude every day? If so, you just might be happier and have more friends than others.

Cassondra Chadwell, a psychology major and 2015 graduate of UVA’s College at Wise, believes that recognizing our happiness and showing our gratitude can improve our lives. She pursued research to understand more about the relationship between thankfulness and quality of life.

Two grants from the C. Bascom Slemp Fund for Undergraduate Research supported Chadwell’s research project—“Gratitude and Positive Affect as Predictors of Positive Relationships.” Created through a gift from the C. Bascom Slemp Foundation, the fund supports students completing undergraduate research projects in various disciplines.

The first grant allowed Chadwell to spend a summer analyzing data she had gathered—thousands of journal entries from participants in her study. She was also able to prepare an abstract. The second grant covered her travel to the Southeastern Psychological Association conference in South Carolina in March 2015 to present her findings.

It’s highly unusual for undergraduates to present at the annual conference. Chadwell believed the presentation was not only a good experience in and of itself, but also gave her a step up in applying to graduate school. She began attending Middle Tennessee State University in fall 2015. Its industrial organization psychology program is ranked nationally and offers both a research and a consulting component.

It’s clear gratitude leads to productivity and fulfillment. Chadwell’s career goal is to help find the middle ground between employers’ needs for productivity and employees’ desires to find satisfaction in their work. “I want people to love what they do,” she said.

The Slemp Foundation is named for Campbell Bascom Slemp (1870–1943), six-time U.S. congressman from Southwest Virginia who also served as secretary to President Calvin Coolidge. Since 1980 the foundation has made cumulative gifts of $3.85 million to UVA’s only branch college, UVA’s College at Wise.


Michelle Packer