Associate Professor of Psychology
BA, Psychology, Goshen College
MAPS, MATS, and PHDCP, Fuller Theological Seminary School of Psychology
WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher. However, in high school I decided I wanted to be a psychologist.
WHY OR HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
Like many who chose the area of counseling, I experienced many times that peers shared information with me that they did not feel comfortable sharing with others. It seemed natural to listen and empathize with their situations. In addition, I had a caring youth minister who served as my mentor. He not only had a theology degree, but a marriage and family degree as well. The way he listened and interacted with me made me want to go into counseling, but I wanted to have the Ph.D. to be able to teach and do counseling.
WHAT’S EXCITING ABOUT YOUR JOB OR THIS FIELD?
I love teaching because I never stop learning. I am forced to learn the material better when I have to explain it to others. Also, I learn from the questions students’ pose. My field of psychology is exciting because it helps me with critical thinking. Because psychology is such a part of pop culture, many people think it is just common sense. Yet, much of what is presented to the public is inaccurate. Teaching what the science of psychology discovers challenges me to continue to think critically about information presented to me.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?
You always have options. They may not be great options, but you always have options.
WHAT ARE YOU REALLY PROUD OF? (IN A MENNONITE, HUMBLE SORT OF WAY, OF COURSE)
I am very proud of getting my Ph.D. I am a first generation college graduate and first generation graduate student. This has meant that I have had to work very hard to achieve my education. But, I need to add that I am not only proud of my formal education, I am glad that I never stop learning from relationships. My husband and children teach me a lot about what it means to be humble, caring, loving, peaceful, etc.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY?
The one thing I would do differently is look more broadly at graduate schools. Because of my interest in faith and psychology, I chose a school without funding for graduate students. While I enjoyed my education, I completed a Ph.D. with significant debt. If I were 22 again, I would consider other institutions where I still could have pursued my interest in psychology of religion.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG PERSON JUST STARTING OUT
In terms of starting in college, I would say enjoy these years for you will never be in a similar setting with so many peers around you. At the same time, remember that an education is especially important in our world. Thus, if all you desire is to have fun and not study, you will miss valuable opportunities to grow, not to mention the lost respect by faculty and staff. College is not for everyone. If a person really is not ready to apply him/herself, then get a job, or go on service. Sometimes waiting a few years will help one discover what s/he really wants to do and give him/her the motivation to do the work.