Hunter Metcalf: New Alumni Spotlight

Emily Pendleton, Assistant Director of Operations and Strategic Affairs

Hunter Metcalf has never been afraid to work extra hard and seek the support she needs to reach her goals. During her junior year at the University of Arizona, Hunter was formally diagnosed with dyslexia and introduced to the SALT Center. Having always found school to be quite challenging, it was a relief for her to finally find answers to her struggles and, more importantly, a program to help guide her through them.

While studying Neuroscience and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Arizona, Hunter initially planned to graduate and then transition seamlessly into a doctoral program in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Pediatric Neuropsychology. Hunter’s undergraduate experience would have normally given her opportunities for hands-on experience working with patients and conducting research, but the pandemic had other things in store. Since graduating earlier this year, Hunter has made the brave decision to take a gap year to strengthen her résumé and become a more well-rounded candidate for acceptance into a Ph.D. program.

Before deciding on the right path forward, Hunter worked closely with her Student Support Specialist to help her weigh all the options. She decided that the best approach was to seek out a position working as a research assistant. Unfortunately, due to our current world situation, these jobs are not very plentiful or easily obtained. Hunter knew that she needed to be strategic to get her plan in motion, so she used both traditional and non-conventional methods to get the attention of recruiters and successfully secure a position.

Hunter would like to focus her research on the impact of toxic stress and social determinants of health on the developing brain. She is also interested in exploring lifestyle behaviors that can build resilience and emotional health in youth to help mitigate the impacts of toxic stress. She hopes to, one day, work in an environment that permits her to maintain a one-on-one relationship with her young patients from start to finish, using her knowledge of psychology and the biology of the brain to maximize her impact on patient health.

Hunter will tell you that the SALT Center was valuable to her because it helped her gain the skills she needed to succeed as an undergraduate and the confidence and direction she is now using to navigate the obstacles in her way. While, of course, nervous about this next step in life, she believes in herself and her abilities, something that was very much less true just over two years ago.

In many ways, Hunter is a prime example of the type of graduate the SALT Center helps to produce. SALT Center graduates are some of the finest and most prepared individuals entering the workforce, having learned and mastered powerful strategies for academics and life.

No matter how much of her story has played out thus far, Hunter Metcalf is, undeniably, a shining example of hard work and determination. Reflecting on everything she has learned, Hunter wisely advises current students to, “Take advantage of all the help and recourses SALT and the UA community have to offer- and that it is always okay/important to have help and support along the way.”

Hunter is bound to do amazing things and it will be a joy to watch her continue to grow and flourish as she progresses toward her next college degree.

Hunter Metcalf

Photo Courtesy of Kiley Harmon (