Student Profile: Madeline Spiess adapts to challenges to promote students’ strengths

Monday, April 5, 2021
Madaline Spiess

Madeline Spiess is a doctoral student with an emphasis in School Psychology working with Dr. Erin Dowdy. She received her B.A. in Psychology from University of San Francisco. After graduation, she worked at UCSF within the Hyperactivity, Attention and Learning Problems (HALP) Clinic. Spiess was the lead project coordinator for the Collaborative Life Skills Program, a school-home intervention focused on behavioral parent training, child skill building, as well as teacher consultation and professional development. Spiess managed recruitment, intervention, and data management procedures while facilitating school and community partnerships within San Francisco Unified School District. She also coordinated numerous Phase II and III sponsor-funded clinical trials for children and adults with attention and/or behavioral challenges. Her current research interests include the exploration of protective and promotive factors that contribute to positive student mental-health outcomes, including the utilization of universal screenings to inform culturally adaptive interventions.

GGSE: What do you do in your free time?
Spiess: I really enjoy being outside! I love running and hiking with my roommates, going to the beach, and gardening in my backyard. I also really like trying new restaurants!

GGSE: What did you learn working at the San Francisco Unified School District that has stuck with you?
Spiess: So much of what I gained from my collaboration with school social workers, teachers, and parents has been centered around flexibility! Taking ideas and plans outside of a lab and into the real world requires active problem solving, adjusting, and adapting as necessary, and working effectively with diverse team members with unique backgrounds and perspectives.

Most notably, though, this opportunity allowed me to be actively engaged in building and promoting strengths of students and their families to achieve happier, healthier lives—an experience that will always motivate me throughout my career!

GGSE: What’s the best advice a professor has ever given you?
Spiess: “Be protective of your time and prioritize what you love to do!” I definitely find myself wanting to take on more projects and responsibilities than I should, so this advice constantly serves as a reminder to be mindful of what I commit to.

GGSE: If you had a time machine, when would you go?
Spiess: If I had a time machine, I would probably go back to San Francisco in 1967 during the Summer of Love. I grew up in the Bay Area and have always wondered what it would have been like to be there during that time!