1. What are you doing now?
Currently, I am a fourth year doctoral graduate student in the School Psychology program at the University of Southern Mississippi. The USM School Psychology program offers broad training in empirically-based problem-solving skills, specialized training in behavior analytic theory and practice, extensive supervised field- and clinic-based training and opportunities for supervised practica in other community settings including developmental disability facilities and early intervention centers. The program adheres to the Data-Based Problem-Solver model (DBPS) which teaches students to view all school psychological functions from a problem-solving perspective requiring systematic progression through the steps of (a) problem identification, (b) problem solution, and (c) problem evaluation. In addition, the DBPS stresses the importance of basing hypotheses and conclusions at each step on empirical data. The program at USM is APA accredited and a NASP approved training program. Upon graduation, I plan to enter the field as a school psychologist in a school district or work in a residential treatment facility capacity. Recently, I applied to APA accredited internship sites across the United States. I used this opportunity to apply to various sites that I have an interest in (e.g., schools, treatment facilities, and medical centers). I anticipate that this experience will shape my future decisions with regard to where I practice.
The program at USM offers many opportunities to practice in various settings. While attending USM, I have had various external assistantships (i.e., consortium at Ellisville State School, daytreatment classroom consultant) and I am currently employed by the Laurel School District in Laurel, Mississippi as a behavioral and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) consultant to seven schools. My duties for the district include primarily consultation and data management for discipline data but also include individual and group behavior management interventions.
2. How did UTM Psychology Program help you achieve what you have become?
UTM undoubtedly provided me with a solid foundation to build upon in graduate school. One of the most influential classes I took while at UTM was an applied behavior analysis class with Dr. Gary E. Brown. This class was a great introduction to managing observation data and using it to make data-based decisions. Additionally, when I began graduate school at Mississippi State (master’s in Clinical Psychology), I noticed that my training at UTM put me ahead of my classmates. I was also very fortunate to work with Dr. Buckelew on various research projects and even presented at a several conferences. Lastly, I found that the experimental classes with Dr. Angie MacKewn provided me with not only a solid foundation in data analysis, but also helped me significantly in graduate school.
While I was at UTM, I also had fun with various extracurricular activities. I was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota and was president my last year on campus. I was also involved in various Vanguard Theatre productions and received a minor in music playing the French horn. I also worked at the library at the circulation desk!
3. What advice would you give to students who are thinking about becoming UTM psychology majors?
My major piece of advice to future students is to take advantage of everything the program has to offer. The faculty is comprised of caring, knowledgeable practitioners that have a wealth of knowledge and are waiting to share it with you! If you take the time to listen, learn, and go above and beyond the expectations, you will be exceptionally prepared for graduate school in various psychology programs. I am constantly running into those that graduated from UTM, with a psychology degree, at conferences and we all reminisce about our time at UTM and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I am a proud graduate from the psychology program at UTM.