I met Taryn last Fall. We were both a part of the same research team. She was a first year School Psychology PhD student and I was a fourth year undergraduate student. Although we didn’t talk as much in the beginning of the year, a friendship quickly blossomed. On Mother’s Day, Taryn and I went to my cousin’s house so she could administer an IQ test to my cousin, as part of an assignment for one of her classes. I’ve wanted to go to grad school since before I was a freshman in college (because of my desired profession, I knew that I would need more than a Bachelor’s degree) but I don’t think I have ever truly known what it meant to be a grad student until I saw how hard Taryn’s brain was working on Mother’s Day and how hours later, we had made a small dent in the amount of work that she needed to complete. I have a lot of respect for all graduate students, especially the ones who are as lovely as Taryn is. I was so excited that she was willing to be featured on my blog and I am very grateful that she took the time to answer my interview questions. I thought it would be great to get some wisdom and insight from someone who is currently a graduate student.
Sandra: What are your typical responsibilities as a graduate student? (We understand that this question might be broad and that you probably do a great number of things as a graduate student.. but we would love to hear more about what your days and weeks look like while in grad school. Are you a TA? Do you have a lot of classes and classwork? Are you working while in grad school?
Taryn: My responsibilities as a grad student are to somehow stay alive while I have classes, Practicum, research, counseling, and interventions. Classes as a grad student are not necessarily hard but require a lot of time and hard work to remember citations and read through numerous articles. My classes are in the afternoon/evening because I’m at Elementary schools every day of the week. One day a week I’m at my Practicum site, where I’m supervised by a licensed school psychologist who shows me what life as a school psych entails (everything from testing to writing reports). I’m also a counselor at four schools, where I see children suffering from mild behavioral disorders, anxiety, depression, as well as those from broken households. This is my “job” or GSR (graduate student researcher) position that helps pay for my tuition. I’m also conducting the “Bulling Literature Project” interventions in 3rd grade classrooms for my thesis. I’m really excited this quarter because it’s all my project now as I am doing my thesis on bullying and moral disengagement. Presenting at conferences is another aspect of grad school. That being said, I am presenting the Bullying Literature Project this February at the National Association of School Psychology (NASP) convention in New Orleans!
Sandra: What was it like to move to a different state to attend grad school?
Taryn: I can’t say moving to another state wasn’t hard (it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done), but I looked at it as an adventure. I had no idea what life had in store for me in Cali. All I knew was that I would forever regret it if I didn’t take the opportunity. I miss my home and friends so much when I’m gone. And I will forever be in love with Florida. But it just makes trips back home even more magical.
Sandra: What inspired you to apply to school psychology graduate programs?
Taryn: I have to give my parents credit for my choice of school psychology. My dad is a licensed therapist and my mom is a Kindergarten teacher. I always admired their hard work and how they always did their best to make a difference. I unintentionally combined their professions and ended up on my path to becoming a school psychologist and I’m very happy with that.
Sandra: What are some things you enjoy doing in your free time?
Taryn: My favorite thing to do in my free time is go to theme parks!!! Growing up in Florida, Disney was my backyard. I went with my family every weekend and never grew tired of it. I’m also obsessed with Universal. I love the magic and excitement being in a theme park brings me. I also love to line dance! I’m a country girl at heart. There’s just something about dancing and spinning in my boots to the music that makes me feel so free. Now if I could only find some time during the quarter..
Sandra: What are your long term career goals?
Taryn: My long term career goals are not specific. I simply want to make a difference in as many lives as possible. Whether it’s as a practicing school psychologist that can help children directly or a researcher who finds ways to improve others’ well being.
Sandra: Do you have any advice for someone who is applying to graduate school or thinking about applying?
Taryn: My advice would be to go for it! You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you try. Some more advice would be to not stress. Everything will be okay and we’ll all find the place we’re supposed to be in the end. Enjoy the process and enjoy the journey.