When she was 18, Chanel Brodeur-Muir ventured 9,000 miles from her home on the North Island of New Zealand to begin her college journey at St. Thomas Aquinas College where she looked forward to studying biology and playing power forward on STAC’s Women’s Basketball Team.
Originally, she was planning on becoming a veterinarian after spending much of her childhood outdoors exploring nature and caring for dozens of puppies on the farm where her family breeds Rottweilers.
In the spring semester of her junior year, however, after she completed several psychology electives, Chanel decided to switch gears and pursue a career that focused on helping people. Changing majors so late in the game isn’t always easy, but thanks to the flexibility of the curriculum and faculty mentors who guided her through the process, she was able to make a seamless transition.
“Upon realizing my drive to understand the inner workings of the human mind and help people, I decided that psychology would be the better field of study for me,” she said. “I had an incredibly helpful advisor, Dr. Steven Burns, who helped me make the transition at such a late stage in my studies. From my freshman year, I had always taken an interest in psychology, so we discussed this, and kept my options open for both majors as long as we could.”
Under the guidance of Psychology Professor Dr. Susan Marell, Chanel was soon accepted into the dual STAC/NYU Masters of Social Work program which allows students to complete a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in social work in five years, after completing an intensive required practicum. “This class, limited to five students, required a 100-hour Psychology Field Placement which I completed at The Promenade at Blue Hill senior living facility,” Chanel explains. “This was a great opportunity to dip my toes in the field of social work, before being officially accepted into the NYU program.”
Changing majors wasn’t the only way STAC faculty and staff helped Chanel make a smooth transition. “They made the transition to my college life incredibly easy,” she says. “Before I had even accepted my scholarship offer, I felt as if I was at home.” Once she arrived, she appreciated the many ways STAC helped international students get acclimated, from pairing her with an international roommate to organizing different events and even a bus trip to Target during the first week of school so students could shop for dorm room essentials.
In the summer of 2021, Chanel and her family were devastated when she was unable to return home to New Zealand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But STAC’s faculty and staff came to the rescue and she was able to remain safe in campus housing and was even offered a summer job in the STAC mailroom. “I made invaluable relationships with STAC faculty and staff who became my surrogate family over the summer,” she says. “Carolee Stoll, who offered me the position in the mailroom, was like a second mother to me. Without her, I wouldn’t have been able to afford housing over the summer break.”
The recipient of both academic and athletic scholarships, Chanel has been a member of STAC’s Women’s Basketball team since she arrived. She played the sport since childhood and, when she was 12, she quit ballet and field hockey to focus solely on improving her skills so she could someday secure a college scholarship in the U.S. Arriving at STAC was a dream come true for her. “Little did I know that I would be in New York studying and playing the sport I love on a scholarship ten years later.”
In addition to basketball, camping, hiking, reading, playing the guitar, and traveling are among Chanel’s favorite ways to spend free time. She also studied Mandarin for six years and, when she traveled to Beijing, she walked on the Great Wall of China and was able to bargain at markets in the native language.
Who are her role models? “My mother and father,” she says. “Their work ethic, determination, and ambition were imprinted on me from a young age and I aspire to be like them.”