Graduate School Alum Advice: Forensic Psychology

Uhl_Carolyn (1)Carolyn Uhl


What steps did you take to get to where you are now?

  • I completed my undergraduate degree at UWGB, where I majored in Psychology and Human Development.
  • During my last semester at UWGB, I completed an internship at Marion House, a group home for pregnant and parenting adolescents.
  • Upon graduation, I was offered full-time employment at Marion House, where I worked as a Case-Manager for around a year and half, at which time I was promoted to Program Manager for a recently opened transitional living program for homeless pregnant and parenting young mothers, especially for those aging out of the foster care system.
    • As I mentioned above, I thought that one area in which I could grow in my ability to advocate for my clients was related to helping them navigate the legal system; however, I didn’t want to go to law school, so I found forensic psychology to be a great compromise.
  • I applied and was accepted into the MS forensic psychology program at the University of North Dakota (UND).
    • During my time in the program, my advisor encouraged me to apply for the experimental/general psychology PhD program.
    • During my time in the PhD program, I focused on classes that would enhance my statistical skills, expand my knowledge of forensic psychology, and/or provide me with skills that were easily transferrable to other fields.
    • During graduate school, I taught classes at UND, as well as a local technical college. However, working on my own research, as well as various research projects within my advisor’s lab, was where I learned the most.  I was able to apply my classroom knowledge and study things that were of interest to me and others in the lab.

Did you enjoy your forensic psych graduate experience? Anything in particular?

  • I definitely enjoyed my forensic psych graduate experience. I enjoyed my classes, conducting research, teaching, and speaking and working with classmates.  I especially enjoyed working on research, especially data analysis.

What is a typical day schedule for you?

  •  What I currently do:
    • I am currently a Research Analyst at St. Norbert College.
    • As a Research Analyst, I prepare, initiate, and implement survey and other data collection and research efforts. I also help refine research questions, construct datasets, conduct statistical analyses, summarize research findings, create interactive data visualizations and dashboards, and prepare reports and presentations in support of requests from various units on campus and of accreditation efforts.
    • Our office also works to support faculty, staff, student, and collaborative scholarly research efforts.
    • In my free time, I conduct research on juror perceptions regarding victim culpability, cyber-crimes and the law (e.g., image-based sexual abuse), and social injustices faced by underrepresented populations.
  • What I did before you moved back to this area/how I use my research skills in my current position:
    • In graduate school, I chose to take courses that would best prepare me for a career conducting research.
    • I focused on building my statistical skills as much as possible.
    • I also sought out opportunities to enhance my research skills and took a mixed-methods course, a Ux course, a writing/publishing course, and worked with different students and faculty within the department to help get the broadest range of experiences and skills.
    • These experiences helped expand my skill set and allowed me to be a more well-rounded researcher.
  • What others from UND forensic psychology programs have done after finishing their education:
    • Graduates from the Forensic Psychology program where I do work in many different areas.
    • Some, like me, are working in data analysis and/or research capacities, some are conducting forensic evaluations under the supervisor of psychologists, some work with prisons and juvenile facilities, some work as probation services, some work as legal advocates (e.g., child advocacy centers, sexual assault centers, crisis centers), some work in social service agencies, some work in law enforcement, etc.

Graduate School Alum Advice: Counseling Psychology

Gretchen

Gretchen Klefstad


What steps did you take to get to where you are now?

  • During my senior year of undergrad, I applied to a number of master’s counseling programs.
  • In all honesty, a lot of my internships and assistantships in undergrad were through the Public Administration department or with local nonprofits.
    • A strong motivator for me to pursue a graduate degree in counseling came from my determination to learn more about mental illness and continue to reduce the stigma. I ended up attending the University of Minnesota (the Counseling and Student Personnel Psychology program).
  • I just graduated in May 2019. After graduation I took some time off to reset and figure out what was next for me. With a counseling degree, there’s a lot of different avenues and opportunities for work. I needed some time to find the next good thing and how I could best fit into the counseling field.
  • Just a few weeks ago, I accepted a job at Indigo Counseling Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. This happened after two months filled with job applications and interviews.

Did you enjoy your counseling psych graduate experience? Anything in particular?

  • Overall, yes. With any graduate experience there are some drawbacks or challenges. I feel as though the CSPP program was more directed toward school counselors. However, with that experience, I also shared a learning environment with people pursuing different avenues of counseling and that led to interesting group discussions and new perspectives.
  • Throughout my practicum experience, which was extremely challenging, I felt very supported and encouraged from faculty and my supervisor at the U.

What is a typical day schedule for you?

  • In a few weeks, I’d be able to give a more detailed answer because I’m currently still settling into my new job and building a client load.
  • So far, I’ve found that private practice offers a lot of flexibility. I’m currently only doing two days a week at Indigo, planning to see about five clients each day. I will continue to add on more days as I bring on new clients.
  • What I like best is that I can see clients and accumulate hours toward LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor) licensure, but I also have the freedom and time to do other things like volunteer for mental health care initiatives, get involved with local nonprofits, and work on my “passion projects”.

Counseling Psychology: Featured Alum Q&A

Gretchen

Gretchen Klefstad


What first interested you in counseling psychology?

  • I can recall my time in high school was when I first started gaining interest in mental health care. I was raised in a very small community and there was a considerable amount of negative ideas about counseling and mental illness. Due to this, I was interested in learning more about mental illnesses and the stigma that was so prevalent in my community.

 

What did you learn in your undergraduate career that contributed to your current knowledge?

  • I cannot say enough good things about my time at UWGB.
  • I majored in Psychology but also studied Public Administration emphasizing in Nonprofit Management. I had this unique balance of learning about the human experience and how to navigate the public and nonprofit sectors. I recall taking a counseling class with Dr. Vespia that first had me thinking about pursuing the profession. I think my undergraduate education really set a solid foundation for my master’s in many different ways.
  • I learned how to advocate for myself and ask for help when I needed it which proved to be extremely beneficial in graduate school. As I think a little deeper, during my time in Green Bay I came to understand the importance of community. I still take that with me today.
  • Not only relying on other counselors and mental health professionals for support, but being knowledgeable about community resources. I’m in this field to help and if I can’t directly help someone, I want to point them in a direction of where they can receive that help. This was instilled in a lot of different areas through my undergraduate education.

 

Do you have any advice for any aspiring counseling psychologists?

  • Ask questions and make connections! Reach out to counselors and other professionals, ask about their grad school experiences, what they like or dislike about their job, what they wish they had known going into it.
  • One thing to know is that it’s a long process. After two years in graduate school, there’s an additional two years before you’re licensed – and that can be a tricky space to navigate. It’s worth it, but it’s tricky.
  • Although it can be challenging in many different ways, being a therapist is such a beautiful gift. I share a space with someone who opens up and allows me to hear their story, their struggles, their triumphs. I am continually reminded of the determination and resilience of humans – and that is a really wonderful thing.

For more information specifically on Graduate School see what advice Gretchen has about graduate school related to counseling psychology.

Graduate School Alum Advice: School Psychology

 

Tessa

Tessa Evenson


What steps did you take to get to where you are now?

  • First, over the summer before my senior year at UWGB, I researched potential graduate schools I was interested in. Then I went to see some of my professors when my senior year started to ask them about the programs I was interested in.
  • After bringing it down to 3 graduate schools I thought were the best fit, I made checklists for each one. (Each school has a completely different application process, so it was a lot of work on top of a full school and work schedule.)
    • For two of the programs I was applying for, the GRE was needed, and a minimum score was required to be considered into either of those programs. So, I scheduled myself to take the GRE, which was also about $200, as well as each grad school application being about $75. I studied for the GRE using online resources and talking with my professors. I took it on a Saturday morning, and it took about 4 hours, if I remember correctly. From there, I was able to send my scores to the schools I wanted.
  • Next, all applications required I write some sort of personal statement or essay describing my skills and why that program would be a good fit for me. One of the programs asked for an APA writing sample from my undergraduate career. I also had to submit at least 3 references and most programs recommended 2 of those references be professors.
  • Most of the applications were due in December or January and I waited about a month before I heard back from any of them.
    • Two programs called me, and scheduled interviews.
    • One program emailed me to inform me that they did not choose to interview me, therefore they were not an option anymore.
  • In February, it was down to two schools, UW-Stout and UW-La Crosse.
    • My interview at UW-Stout comprised of two one-on-one interviews with the program director and a professor in the program. I was also able to meet many of the other applicants, as well as talk extensively with current School Psychology students. I was also able to eat lunch with those students and get a tour of the school.
    • The UW-LaCrosse interview was much different. I also had two interviews on interview day, however, one of them was with 6 people and the other was one-on-one with the program director. I also had a Q-and-A with three current students and only met two other applicants.
    • I was given a tour of the school, but did not have as much contact with the current students as I did at UW-Stout. A couple weeks later after each interview I was contacted.
  • The program director at UW-Stout, herself, called to let me know I was accepted into the program, which I very much appreciated.
  • After careful consideration, I chose UW-Stout because I really enjoyed my experience on interview day and felt that the program, overall, was the best fit for me.
    • After becoming admitted in the UW-Stout School Psychology program, I attended an orientation laying out the classes I needed and information needed for my first year. The current students also gave me and my cohort (the other first-year school psychology students) information on financial aid, ideas of where to live, and cool places to visit in the Menomonie community. I met a girl from my cohort that day and we decided to live together. During the summer, I enrolled in classes and we found an apartment and here I am now living in Menomonie going to UW-Stout for graduate school!

What is a typical day schedule for you?

  • My school day as a graduate student is not much different than my school day as an undergraduate student.
  • I do not think I will ever have more than 2 classes in one day. This is because the classes are a bit longer. Some classes are 2 hours and some are 3. I also have a Saturday class this semester and we only meet 5 times throughout the semester, but it is an 8-hour day.
  • On a typical day, I start class around 9-9:30 and sometimes end around noon and sometimes end around 4:30, with a 2 hour break in between.
  • Then some days I go to the GA (graduate assistant) lab after class to ask the GAs questions about my assessments or to turn in assignments. I’m usually in the GA lab about 2 or 3 times a week, sometimes more.
  • The class structure, in general, is not much different than undergraduate classes, except there’s just more material and it is always school-based (content applies to practice in K-12 public schools), in general.
    • I have some papers to write, I had to complete volunteer hours working with kids, I had to shadow a school psychologist, I have discussion posts, quizzes, assignments, and exams.

Do you enjoy your school psych graduate experience? Anything in particular?

  • Probably the best part about the program is the people. My professors, just like UWGB, are extremely helpful.
  • My professors also always make a point every class that they will do everything in their power to make sure we are successful.
  • This school psychology program at UW-Stout is cohort-based. Therefore, all of the first-year school psychology students are in all of my classes. It is meant so that we have that support throughout graduate school, as well as when we become school psychologists.
  • It is nice to have those people to relate to when classes are difficult. They are also the first people I go to for any school-related questions or comments.

Featured Student: Haille Bocek

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1)When are you graduating? Spring 2020

2)  What are your career plans? Goal is to eventually become a Forensic Psychologist

3)  Why did you major in psychology? Originally psychology was not my first major, however, after some struggles and deep thought psychology was the best option to include all of the things I am passionate about; criminal justice and mental health.

4)  What do you do for fun? Anything outside or including sports: nature walks, swimming, volleyball, fishing, etc.

5)  What academic experience or accomplishment are you most proud of? One of the best academic accomplishments I am most proud of is becoming the Psychology Lab Coordinator at UWGB. It has opened my eyes to research and how much we rely on the community to reach our research goals!

6)  What is your favorite movie, book, and TV show related to psychology? One of my favorite books related to psychology is Saving Normal by Allen Frances.

7)  What single thing do you hope to accomplish at UWGB before graduating? One thing I would like to accomplish before graduating that is not related to academics is walking all the trails in the arboretum.

8)  What else do you want people to know about you? One thing that I believe in is advocating for yourself when seeking help for your mental health, many clinicians use medication as the first option for treatment after diagnoses (mixed with other options) but you know yourself the best. If medication is not something you want there are so many different treatment options out there that may help.

Featured Student: Addison Hunter

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1) When are you graduating? I am graduating in the Spring of 2020
2) What are your career plans? I want to go into some form of counseling whether it be in a school with kids or working elsewhere with adults.
3) Why did you major in psychology? I majored in psychology because I have always known that I wanted to help people become their best selves and be there for support when needed. I love learning about different disorders and how to help people that need it most.
4) What do you do for fun? I love spending time with my family and friends whether its relaxing or going to the mall or doing something outside. I really enjoy reading and finding new things to experience with the people that I love.
5) What academic experience or accomplishment are you most proud of? I am very proud of the Independent Study that I am going to have the chance to do next year which will improve my understanding in psychology overall and I am also proud of branching out on campus when it comes to volunteering and being part of clubs.
6) What is your favorite movie, book, and TV show related to psychology? My favorite book related to Psychology is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. It focuses a lot on mental illness and gives an insight into the mind of somebody who is very much struggling with the people around her but also struggling with her mental illness.
7) What single thing do you hope to accomplish at UWGB before graduating? One thing that I want to accomplish before graduation is trying to become more involved in the clubs on campus because I think that it will really improve my college career as I look back on these years in the future. I want as much experience working with people as possible.
8) What else do you want people to know about you? I really love getting to know others and being a part of the Psychology department and branching out has allowed me to meet so many new people who have the same passions as I do. I am very thankful for all of the experiences that I have had so far at UWGB!

Featured Student: Meghan Hoffman

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1) When are you graduating? I am graduating May of 2020

2) What are your career plans? My career plan is to be a BCBA for a school district or a center that works with those with autism.

3) Why did you major in psychology? I majored in psychology because I enjoy working with those with special needs and knew I wanted my career path to involve working with people with special needs.

4) What do you do for fun? For fun I enjoy being outside, especially during the summer out on the boat. I also enjoy horse back riding and playing guitar.

5) What is your favorite movie related to psychology? I really enjoyed the movie Split.