Student Perspectives

 
School Psychology Ph.D. Student
Sarah Babcock

School Psychology Ph.D. Student

What is my background?
I received my B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Education from University of California, Berkeley in 2008. Go bears! During my undergraduate years I was a research assistant in the sleep lab, where I would prepare and monitor overnight subjects for polysomnography as part of an effectiveness study for insomnia treatment. I served as a tutor/mentor and a college and financial aid advisor for East Bay Consortium, a California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP), founded to develop and improve educational opportunities for students in the East Bay. From 2009-2013, I have served as a mental health counselor at a board and care facility for adults with mental illnesses, a behavior therapist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, a teacher’s aid for Montessori schools, both a lower elementary classroom and a preschool. Finally, I served Goleta Union School District as an instructional aid for special education/severely handicapped students.

Why did I choose UCSB?
I was drawn to the combined aspect as well as the scientist-practitioner model. Although a school psychology student, I felt this program would supply me with a breadth of knowledge in both the clinical and counseling fields. The scientist-practitioner model was appealing as a means to increase my knowledge and skills in both applied/practical work as well as scholarship.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?
As a first year student, my involvement in research is just beginning. In addition to coursework, currently I am involved in two projects at Isla Vista Elementary School under the supervision of my advisor, Shane Jimerson. One is an anti-bullying project called Promoting Positive Peer Relations (P3R), for which I implement a weekly curriculum, in partnership with a colleague, to a 5th grade classroom. The other is a project called Power of Play aimed at promoting prosocial peer relations through facilitating prosocial behaviors during recess. As part of my fieldwork, I assist in an English Language Learner classroom once per week, and I’m involved in a mentorship program for high school students at risk of drop out at San Marcos High School called Check, Connect, and Respect (CCR).

What advice do I have for incoming students in School Psychology?
Go easy on yourself! If you are accepted into the CCSP program, you have proven yourself. Many opportunities will come your way and many demands will be placed on you; you probably won’t be able to do it all perfectly. That’s okay. Do the best you can, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Schedule time for self-care. Try not to stress on the little things and focus on the big picture. Don’t forget to remind yourself why you’re here. You have a passion and you’re following it. Faculty, your cohort, and other students are great resources for support. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers; be open to the experience of exploring what interests you.

Aileen Chang, M.A.

School Psychology Ph.D. Student

What is my background?
I took a very circuitous path to school psychology. After an undergraduate degree in physics and a half a dozen odd jobs, including working in a Midwest carnival, I spent several years teaching middle school in Oakland, CA and then became a teaching coach. I decided to enter school psychology because I saw from the dozens of classrooms that I had been in that there was a need for schools to teach social-emotional skills in addition to academic skills, especially in the worst-performing school districts. I wanted to immerse myself in learning about social-emotional skills as they relate to schools, and I wanted my knowledge base to be broad, ranging from how to provide therapy for individual students and possibly even teachers to how to implement school-wide practices that promote students' and teachers' well-being. Because of these reasons, I started contemplating applying to graduate psychology programs.

Why did I choose UCSB?
Probably similar to everyone else who chose UCSB, CCSP's program was a good fit with my own interests. I am particularly interested in positive psychology and resilience, both of which are emphasized here. However, there were other reasons that really cinched the deal for me. Just as important to me as program fit was the observation that CCSP's faculty seemed happy, and I want to be immersed in an environment where people are passionate about what they do every day and model the mental health and well-being that this profession attempts to promote. An additional factor, which was really just icing on the cake, is that UCSB is right by the ocean, and I've always dreamed of living right by the coast and eventually learning to surf.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?
I'm in my second year, so I have a minimum of 10 hours a week doing practicum-related activities at Santa Barbara High School, such as assessments, observations, report writing, consultation, individual counseling, and group counseling. Outside of these, I take 20+ units of coursework and am TA-ing an undergraduate Applied Psychology class. My research interest is empathy as it relates to resilience and the promotion of prosocial behaviors and well-being. I'm currently starting my second year project, which involves using an empathy-based intervention in order to decrease anger and aggression in 9th and 10th grade Special Ed students in a group counseling setting. A typical day is pretty long for me, but at the end of the day I am very fulfilled.

What advice do I have for incoming students in School Psychology?
1) Really find out what you are passionate about and pursue it.
2) Be determined to take care of yourself and find a work-life balance. Be a model of psychological health.
3) Be in therapy yourself! Practice what you preach.

Andrew Choi

Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Student

What is my background?
Education
HBS, University of Utah (Psychology, 2013)
HBS, University of Utah (Sociology, 2013)
 
Why did I choose UCSB?

The CCSP program at UCSB has many strengths. Multicultural considerations are a central focus throughout the program, driving our active synergy between engaging research and comprehensive clinical training. The combined nature provides an interdisciplinary diversity of research and clinical interests, allowing students a wide range of possibilities from which to construct their professional niche. And to be frank, the weather helps all of that.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?

I am a doctoral student in the counseling psychology emphasis. My primary research interests focus on identity intersections (e.g., culture, race, sexuality), and the psychological mechanisms through which they are organized and influence mental health. I am specifically interested in the psychosocial antecedes that support resilience in contexts of multiple minority stress. 
 
Secondary research areas involve multicultural education and counseling, in particular the motivational and regulatory processes that underlie the development of multicultural awareness and competence. 
 
What advice do I have for incoming students in counseling psychology?

There are unlimited opportunities for student at CCSP as well as UCSB. I am happy to answer any questions regarding life in the program and campus overall. Please don't hesitate to contact me via achoi@education.ucsb.edu.

 
Jasmin Llamas
Jasmin Llamas, M.A.

Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Student

What is my background?
I received my B.S. in combined sciences and psychology from Santa Clara University in 2006. I received my M.A. in counseling psychology with a Latino emphasis at Santa Clara University in 2009. During my undergraduate years I was a research assistant on several projects and worked in juvenile hall my senior year of college. I served as a grant coordinator for a state funded bullying prevention grant in low-income high schools. From 2005-2009 I worked full-time as a data analyst and research associate in the Data Analysis and Evaluation unit of Santa Clara County, Department of Alcohol and Drug Services.

Why did I choose UCSB?
A unique part of the program that was of particular appeal, was the combined aspect as well as the multicultural focus. Although a counseling student, I felt this program would supply me with a breadth of knowledge in both the clinical and school fields. Having a Latino emphasis in my master's program, I was interested in finding another program that was as dedicated to underserved populations. I was also interested in the opportunity to develop both my qualitative and quantitative skills.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?
As a counseling psychology student, I spend on average 15-20 hours a week at a counseling site (currently I am at the psychiatric unit at Cottage Hospital) and work on research projects for approximately 10-15 hours per week. At Cottage Hospital, I work with nurses, social workers, and psychiatrists, conducting assessments and group therapy. Having entered with my masters, I have taken 4 courses a quarter and will also be working towards another masters in Research Methodology. I meet with my advisor, Dr. Melissa Morgan weekly to prepare for comprehensive exams and work on research projects.

What advice do I have for incoming students in Counseling Psychology?
Try not to stress on the little things and focus on the big picture. Faculty is there to help; be open to asking questions and exploring various aspects of the field. You don't have to have all the answers; you don't have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life, but be willing to explore the many opportunities that come your way. Lastly, there will be MANY opportunities; you cannot possibly do it all! Do what you can, but know your limits and pick and choose wisely.

Charlene Mangi

School Psychology M.Ed. Student

What is my background?
After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a BS in Biology, I joined the 2008 Teach for America Bay Area Corps and taught middle and high school science at an Aspire Public Schools charter school. I taught 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th graders for two years, and in this time felt that although I loved working in education, teaching wasn't the right role for me.

Why did I choose UCSB?
After several more roles in education, I decided to apply for graduate school in school psychology, but wanted a program that would allow me to strongly develop my counseling skills, and get a well rounded education, routed in research. This led me to UCSB CCSP program.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?
I research behavioral interventions, and on a daily basis, spend several hours at my school site, as well as in classes.

 

 

Ashley Mayworm
Ashley Mayworm

School Psychology Ph.D. Student

What is my background?
Before coming to UCSB I earned my undergraduate degree in psychology and peace studies from the University of Notre Dame. While an undergrad, I worked as a research assistant in several psychology research labs and was also very involved in service-related clubs and organizations where I gained experience working with youth in a residential treatment center, tutoring children living in a homeless shelter, implementing an evidence-based intervention with children with ADHD and autism, and working for a domestic and sexual violence hotline. I also studied abroad in Uganda, where I worked with children who were living on the street and helped reconnect them with their families and schooling. After I graduated I worked as a research assistant at the Family Studies Center at Notre Dame where I was involved in research projects that focused on the impact of community and family conflict (in Northern Ireland and the U.S.) on child development.

Why did I choose UCSB?
I chose UCSB for three main reasons. First, the fit between my research interests and that of my primary advisor, Jill Sharkey, are highly aligned. I was very excited about the research Dr. Sharkey was working on at the time of my interview and continue to be invested in the research we conduct. Secondly, I was impressed by the reputation of the school psychology program; it is continuously recognized as a top training program in school psychology and the professors here are very productive and accomplished. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, after my interview at UCSB I was struck by the positive, warm feeling of the faculty and students. It just seemed like a great place to learn (and it has been)!

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?
I am in my fourth year, so a typical day for me now is much different than it was in my first two years (much less coursework and much more research). Currently, I am working on preparing my dissertation proposal, so I spend a great deal of my time reading and writing, as well as discussing dissertation ideas with my dissertation committee members. I spend one day a week working as a mental health extern in a day treatment program for children with emotional disabilities at a local high school. I also supervise 15 UCSB undergraduate students who are serving as Check, Connect, and Respect mentors at another high school; I provide group supervision, ensure that data is being collected and entered correctly, coordinate with the high school administrators and staff, and analyze and report findings of the evaluation of the program. I am also employed as a GSR and work on two grants that involve the evaluation of local Probation programs. In addition, I conduct research with Dr. Sharkey’s research lab, where we are engaged in a wide variety of projects including those focused on youth gang involvement, school discipline, student engagement, bullying, and evaluation of various local probation programs.

What advice do I have for incoming students in School Psychology?
Take advantage of every opportunity. Learn as much as you can. Build positive relationships with faculty and students. If you are unhappy, be proactive and try to make a positive change. Never lose sight of the reasons you became interested in the field to begin with. Make time to have fun and enjoy the weather!!

 

Anahita Navab
Anahita Navab

What is my background?
I received my B.A. from UCLA in Psychology in 2010, where I began my research on early identification of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). From 2010-2012, I began my exploration of early intervention for individuals with ASD, which I began to passionately pursue in conjunction with intervention research.

Why did I choose UCSB?
I could not imagine a program that would better capture the interplay of research and clinical practice through the lens of the scientist-practitioner model. I have always felt that this stance was especially embraced by the Koegel Autism Center and have been lucky enough to pursue this multi-faceted approach to intervention research for individuals with ASD through this work at KAC.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?
My research projects grow directly from the problems and solutions we find to be noteworthy through intervention practice on a day to day basis. A typical day involves frequent "costume changes" as I like to call them, bouncing from role to role as researcher, clinician, assessment specialist, and student all in the course of a few hours. It is this dynamic movement between various domains of clinical psychology that keeps the practice exciting and fresh, never with a dull moment.

What advice do I have for incoming students in Counseling Psychology?
Keep a playful and mindful attitude about this process, always remembering to take mini-breaks so that the work stays fresh and uplifting. Remember, we are doing this for ourselves, so why not make it FUN!

Rebecca Parker

School Psychology M.Ed. Student

What is my background?
I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for my undergraduate degree in Psychology with a Spanish minor. I had the opportunity to work in a lab that evaluated the effectiveness of a community mental health initiative, and another that studied family, culture, and mental health. In addition, I was an advocate for an adolescent female with juvenile justice involvement, and answered calls as a volunteer crisis line clinician. I love working with children, so I volunteered at local schools and worked as a nanny as well.

Why did I choose UCSB?
I knew that I wanted to go to a school that integrated research experience and applied experience, and UCSB offers both. I found that my research interests closely match with those of my advisor, Dr. Jill Sharkey. When I visited UCSB, I noticed the positive, collaborative atmosphere of the faculty and the current students, and knew that I would learn a lot and become a successful professional after completing the program.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?
As a first year school psychology student, my days consist of attending class, working in my research lab, and going to an elementary school for 3 hours a week to volunteer and gain experience working with students and teachers. It is very busy but the work is meaningful and interesting!

What advice do I have for incoming students in school psychology?
Take advantage of all the opportunities that UCSB has to offer, and be flexible and open-minded about which projects you take on. It is also important to take a little bit of time for yourself and explore Santa Barbara!

 

 

Matthew Ruderman, B.A.
Matthew Ruderman, B.A.

School Psychology Ph.D. Student

What is my background?
The appeal of school psychology stems predominantly from my background in working with children. I attended Chapman University in Orange, CA for my undergraduate studies. In addition to majoring in psychology, my previous experiences as a camp counselor, working and interning at a preschool, volunteering at a children’s hospital, tutoring students at the college level, and teaching after school enrichment programs to elementary school students had given me a keen insight into what it takes to work effectively with children and families. Initially, the task of finding a graduate program suited for me was a difficult one. The only certainty was that whichever path I chose, I knew I wanted to make a difference. When starting the application process, I was struggling to make a decision between the dictates of my mind and the dictates of my heart. My mind, logical and analytical in nature, was pushing me toward the harder and applied sciences. Conversely, my heart was telling me to pursue a career encompassing my passion and talents; working with children. School psychology is a synthesis of the two.

Why did I choose UCSB?
The weather! In reality, the immediate appeal of the program was its combined nature and scientist-practitioner model; training across counseling, clinical, and school psychology separates this program from many others around the country. Similarly, the prestige of the program made me confident that I would leave here prepared to help children regardless of the career path I chose. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, the CCSP community was warm and welcoming.

What are my research projects like/what is a typical day like?
Currently, my research project examines how protective factors (i.e., school connectedness, hope, empathy, and/or self-efficacy) vary among individuals perceived to be in the bullying process. Additionally, I have had opportunities to work on several other projects within my lab (including articles and book chapters), as well as become involved with research projects conducted by other faculty. My research has also afforded me the opportunities to work with students, parents, and teachers, as well as make several paper and poster presentations at state and national conferences. As a school psychology student, I spend on average 10-15 hours a week working in the schools. A typical day at a site included assessment (e.g., cognitive, behavioral), brief solution-focused counseling, consultation with teachers, and report writing. For the first two years, weeks are typically full with classes, practicum, and research (and Tupperware lunches!). Currently, I am primarily focused on research and preparing for my comprehensive exams.

What advice do I have for incoming students in school psychology?
1) Remind yourself why you are here... It can be easy to lose sight of this amidst the chaos.
2) Every little thing counts. Whether it is teaching a preschooler how to write his or her name or helping a college student who is struggling with school, it is extremely gratifying to know that you are making a positive difference in a child’s life.
3) Lean on your friends and don't be afraid to ask for help (cue Lean on Me by Bill Withers).
4) Breathe.. Laugh. Somehow, everything gets done. THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

Alexis Stanley-Olson
Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Student
 
My Bachelor's degree is from UCSB in Psychology, with a minor in Applied Psychology.  
 
I chose UCSB because of an opportunity to be exposed to clinical, school, and counseling psychology within an applied setting, as well as the stellar location.  
 
My research focuses on the mind-body connection, performance psychology, and process research.  
 
A typical day could include bright and early clinic meeting, followed by classes, some time spent on research, and wrap up providing a couple sessions of psychotherapy.  I would suggest to anyone entering the program to keep an eye out for opportunities to collaborate on research, even (especially) when it seems a bit outside your zone of interest.  
 

*Questions related to the program's accredited status should be directed to the Commission on Accreditation:
Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychological Association
750 1st Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 336-5979 / E-mail: apaaccred@apa.org
Web: www.apa.org/ed/accreditation