This week's blog is a spotlight on Erika. She's a second-year in the school psychology program, and has been my MSPP mentor, Primary Project go-to, and now, a willing spotlight volunteer.....thanks, Erika!
Why did you decide to study school psychology?
I became interested in school psychology when I started working with children on the Autism Spectrum at a summer camp. Many of my colleagues are special educators, school psychologists, and occupational therapists. In speaking with some of my supervisors I started to see that I could have a real shot as a school psychologist. I didn’t want to simply do counseling. I wanted to be more involved in educational planning and finding ways to prevent student issues that arise. It also doesn’t hurt to have summers “off.”
What is your favorite thing about MSPP?
MSPP provides a lot of resources to its students. Not only do we have our professors, but we also have access to other departments and their faculty. We have access to test kits and protocols that many of the schools we work in lack, which provides a great opportunity to learn a test but also give back to the community in which you work. MSPP also encourages your involvement in larger organizations like MSPA and NASP. To sum it up in a word MSPP supports its students in numerous ways.
What do you find most challenging about being in graduate school?
What isn’t challenging about grad school?! All joking aside, graduate school is a lot of work. At MSPP a lot is expected of you coming into your time here. You have to balance your coursework alongside practicum placements which can be challenging. Currently, my challenge is to find a balance between extending myself at my site as well as assuring my coursework is able to be completed. You want to get involved at your site, but proceed with caution as it is easy to get too involved.
How is your second year in the program different from your first?
I thought this year would be easier than last year. I was so wrong. We have one less class, but bump up our hours at our site. You also have a lot more responsibility. As a second year you know particular measures and have experience in schools. You are also taking on a lot more with counseling and group work. With the new grueling schedule its important to find time for your own mental health, which I am notoriously bad at. Second year has been a realization that “Hey, I’m halfway done (kind of) and I am way on my way to be a full-fledged school psychologist.” Then the panic begins to set in.
What extracurricular activities are you involved with, or have you been involved with as an MSPP student?
I have been involved in things outside of MSPP. I have attended a MSPA conference and hope to go again in the Spring. I also am attending NASP in February which I am excited about. Oh, you’re probably wondering about my life outside school psychology, right? Sometimes the two lines blur. In my minimal free time I enjoy cooking and baking…and blogging about school psychology (like I said, I’m not very good at the “me-time” thing). However, I have been not doing such a great job on this front, so thanks for reminding me to start cooking/baking again!
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with prospective MSPP students?
Dear prospective students,
Please don’t let my crazy, stressed antics about school psychology and graduate school steer you away. In all seriousness, school psychology is a great field to be involved in. Not only are we rated a top profession by Newsweek year after year, but we also have the ability to make it what we want; it’s ever-changing. Once you enter MSPP you’ll hear about the many different tracks you can take, get hands-on experience, and begin to shape how you picture yourself in the next ten years. That’s what’s great about MSPP. You enter the field within your first month of classes and start to see what its all about. You have the ability to ask for opportunities at your sites and pick sites that fit you best as your progress through the program. The hands-on training provided at MSPP is like no other. And hey, the faculty and current students aren’t too bad either ;)