manda williamson

Professor Manda Williamson poses for a portrait in Burnett Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

On Jan. 29, University of Nebraska-Lincoln senior biological sciences major Lauren Brickett tweeted about how her psychology professor inspired all 150 of her lecture students.

Brickett tweeted “My psych professor just said ‘If there are more connections between your two ears than there are stars in the universe, you have a purpose’ and by the end of her lecture today I think half of the 150 students had tears in their eyes. What an awesome opportunity educators have.”

Manda Williamson teaches PSYC 181, “Intro to Psychology,” and inspired the tweet. She said she didn’t know about Brickett’s tweet and was pleasantly surprised when she saw it.

“A former student of mine actually told me about the tweet over email,” she said. “I didn’t think anyone really paid attention to it, and what was said in class stayed in class. But I was flattered to see they did.”

Brickett said Williamson connects psychology curriculum to real-world lessons when she gets the chance.

“She’s incredibly real and speaks so easily,” Brickett said. “I was low-key trying to wipe tears away when she said that, and looked to my right, and the two guys next to me were doing the same thing.”

Williamson said she tries to say quotes like that as much as she can. She said she uses her lesson plans to let her students know how important they are to her.

Williamson studied secondary math education in college but learned working with middle school students was not for her. Instead, she became interested in physiology and neuroscience.

She started graduate school in Pennsylvania at Lock Haven University in 2001. She finished at Penn State and started teaching psychology in 2000 during her last year of graduate school. Her husband is an animal scientist and received a job in Nebraska, so they moved in 2005, and she started at UNL.

“I absolutely love teaching here,” she said. “It is the one place where I can be myself and is 50-60 minutes of pure joy every day. It is seriously one of the best experiences of my adult life.”

Brickett said Williamson relates to students on a level she’s never experienced with a professor before.

“She’s a great speaker,” Brickett said. “She’s incredibly animated and aims to engage students in every lecture.”

Williamson said her students try their hardest with all the work she gives them and finds that students don’t procrastinate when she thoroughly explains what’s expected of them.

“It’s pretty amazing what happens when you give students something and see what they do with it,” Williamson said. “I found that when you invest in them and truly care about them, they do really well.”