Volume 5, Number 1; March 2013
Texas Tech Student of Integrated Scholarship
Find some solid, unchanging ground amidst the chaos. For me, this involves doing certain self-care activities regularly, no matter what. Making time for yourself keeps you sane, focused, and ultimately more productive.
Marriage and Family Therapy,
College of Human Sciences
What got you interested in your major?
I am a second-year master's student in marriage and family therapy at Texas Tech University. I received a B.A. in psychology and English from Texas A&M University. I was drawn to the mental health field as a freshman in college, and became interested in sexual abuse research after volunteering at the Sexual Assault Resource Center in Bryan/College Station. I chose the marriage and family therapy program at Texas Tech in order to pursue my research interests, which include helping families heal from trauma and abuse.
What courses are you taking this semester?
I am currently living in Reykjavik, Iceland, as a Fulbright research grantee, and so I am not taking any courses. However, I am taking a creative writing workshop this spring just for fun! I will return to Texas Tech in the fall of 2013 in order to finish the last year of my master's program.
What is the most challenging course you've taken? How has it affected you?
The most challenging course I've taken was a math class during my undergraduate career. This was not necessarily because the class itself was extremely difficult, but because I have always been afraid of math and have considered myself to be bad at it. In order to do well in this class, I worked very hard, studying every night and going to many tutoring sessions. I was so proud of completing the course with an A. This experience affected me greatly because I learned that hard work can make up for lack of ability to some extent! I also learned that my fear of math made me an anxious tester, so I would forget all of the knowledge I had of the problems. When I was able to calm down and believe in my ability, I retained information much more easily and did not panic when I took the tests. I knew a lot more math than I thought I did. I will not let anything, including math, stop me from pursuing my career goals. While I am a little nervous about the numerous statistics courses I will have to take in my future PhD program, I know that I can work hard and succeed.
Have you completed internships or had other work experience applicable to your field of study?
In the marriage and family therapy program we complete an externship, which I will begin when I return in the fall of 2013. I will be a therapist at the Children's Advocacy Center. The major work experience I have had that is related to my field of study is being a therapist in the Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic, and being a volunteer advocate at the Sexual Assault Resource Center in Bryan/College Station. I learned a great deal about trauma work from these experiences. I am also a certified yoga instructor, and the certification program I completed taught me a lot about how anxiety, stress, and depression affect the body. I learned breathing and stress-reduction techniques that have been useful in my work with clients.
Have you participated in research?
Yes, I love research! My current research project is being carried out in Iceland, with the help of my mentors Dr. Jeffrey Wherry, at Texas Tech, and Dr. Inga Dora Sigfusdottir, at Reykjavik University. The research project consists of two parts. The first was the development of an instrument that measures parental support across raters (parents, children, and therapists). We will be conducting studies of this instrument to assess its reliability and validity. The second goal of the study is to examine how use of social support systems affect the level of support that nonoffending caretakers provide their sexually abused children. We will also examine how parental support differs in various regions in Iceland and the United States, and what factors influence support.
I am also involved in several other research projects in Iceland, including a longitudinal study on adolescents in Europe, and a study on life satisfaction and social support in sexually abused adolescents. I am involved in a research project that my colleagues are carrying out in Lubbock, about foster children's perceptions of their parents.
I have had two research assistantships. The first was at Texas A&M University, where I worked with Dr. Sherecce Fields on a project on impulsivity and cigarette smoking in adolescents. At Texas Tech University, I was a research assistant for Dr. Douglas Smith, where I assisted with the development of an intimate partner violence intervention.
What service projects (volunteering, community service, etc.) have you been involved in?
I am currently volunteering at an organization in Reykjavik called Kristínarhús, which is a shelter for women who have been involved in the sex-trafficking and/or prostitution industries. I stay at the house and am available to talk with the women, solve problems, and assist with child care. I am also teaching yoga at the shelter. During my year in Lubbock, I founded a yoga program at the women's shelter, and procured mats and props through donations. I look forward to continuing teaching yoga at the shelter when I return to Lubbock. I was also a member of the Student Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. While I was an undergraduate at Texas A&M, I was an advocate at the Sexual Assault Resource Center and an advocate for Aggie Allies, which was designed to support the LGBTQ community. I was also involved in two volunteer-based organizations. The first was Aggie Leaders of Tomorrow, where I was the internal relations chair and student mentor. We participated in community service activities such as Big Event, 5Ks, food drives, and mentoring at local elementary schools. The second organization was called Women Helping Out Other People, where I was the diversity chair. We organized similar community service events.
What advice would you give to other students who would like to be a Student of Integrated Scholarship? Students of Integrated Scholarship balance academics with additional activities, such as research, internships, service learning, and study abroad.
The most important piece of advice I could give is to find some solid, unchanging ground amidst the chaos. For me, this involves doing certain self-care activities regularly, no matter what. Making time for yourself keeps you sane, focused, and ultimately more productive. I would highly recommend doing yoga. When I am on my mat, I am able to return to the basics of breathing and movement, and know that everything is okay. I relieve stress, get some exercise, and have time to relax. I also like to drink tea and read something fun. I also like to volunteer because it gets me out of my own head and helps me to be grateful for everything that I have. I always come out in a better mood.
What are your plans after graduation?
After I graduate from Texas Tech, I will hopefully enter a PhD program in clinical psychology or another related field. Ultimately, I hope to get my doctorate and become a researcher and professor at a university, where I will specialize in child abuse. I would also really like to finish writing a novel!
What experiences do you value most as a student at Texas Tech?
The relationships I have developed are absolutely the most important thing I have gotten from being a student at Texas Tech. I have had amazing mentors and professors from whom I have learned so much. I wouldn't be on the path I'm on now if it wasn't for them. I also greatly value my master's cohort. Being able to watch my colleagues grow as therapists has been invaluable. I learn so much from all of their strengths! Connections with people can be much more valuable than hours logged in a class.