Psychology professor to speak on “Embracing Solitude” at Ilsley Library on Tuesday

MIDDLEBURY — As part of their 2024 speaker series, AAUW (American Association of University Women) and Ilsley Library are hosting a presentation this Tuesday evening, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Ilsley Jessica Swift meeting room, by Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Psychology Virginia “Gina” Thomas.

Psychology Professor Gina Thomas

In her talk, “Embracing Solitude for Psychological Well Being,” Thomas will address the diverse reactions that the prospect of being alone elicits.  Some of us desire more time by ourselves, while others of us avoid it at all costs.  Says Thomas, “When chosen, solitude is a restorative and generative state that plays a significant role in psychological wellbeing. But it is also a radical act in a culture that rewards extroversion and is saturated by social media.”

Drawing on nearly a hundred in-depth interviews with adults across the lifespan, as well as multiple studies tracking people’s daily experiences of time alone, Prof. Thomas will share her research findings on why people seek solitude, how they benefit from it, and the skills they use to enjoy time alone.

Prof. Thomas earned her PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, with an emphasis in Feminist Studies.  As a developmental psychologist, she studies social and emotional development throughout the lifespan.

For 2024,  AAUW’s Ilsley Library presentations will also include Naomi Hodde speaking March 19 on “Self-Compassion: Combating Perfectionism,” and Julie Power Rupert  speaking April 16 on “Female Leadership Perspectives on Navigating Intercollegiate Athletics Today.”

AAUW is a non-profit organization founded in 1881. Its mission is to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy. The Middlebury Chapter, founded in 1922,  meets once a month from September through May, and sponsors presentations open to the public. For more information about AAUW,  visit  With questions about local AAUW activities, call Ann Straub (207-210-5563) or Liane Barrera (802-388-7421).


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