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Name: Jake Bentley
Grew up in: Loganville, GA
Degrees held: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Lee University. Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology, Seattle Pacific University.
Degree Currently Pursuing: Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
Intended career path post doctorate: I am interested in working with individuals who have experienced physical and psychological trauma. After internship, I plan to pursue post-doctoral training in rehabilitation psychology. Long term, I anticipate a career of research and clinical practice in an academic medical center or VA hospital.
What teacher or professor has been most influential in your life? I have been really fortunate to work with a number of wonderful supervisors and teachers. At SPU, John Thoburn and Kathy Lustyk have played a central role in guiding my academic development and research pursuits.
Former SPU faculty member Jay Uomoto has also been an incredible mentor and probably most influential on my professional development. He introduced me to rehabilitation psychology, sparked my interest in combat-related polytrauma, and gave me the opportunity to work with him at the Seattle VA.
Tell us a bit about your decision to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology?
The humanitarian aspect of psychology interested me as an undergraduate. By the end of my bachelor’s degree, I knew that I wanted to pursue graduate training in clinical psychology because of the flexibility within the discipline to be active in research, teaching, supervision, and clinical care.
Why Seattle Pacific University?
SPU was a perfect fit for me because of the balance it provided. When I was applying for graduate school, I was looking for a Ph.D. program at a small university where I could make a contribution. After interviewing at SPU, I felt that was something the clinical psychology program could provide. It was also clear that the professional resources available in the broader Seattle community would offer opportunities that I couldn’t get anywhere else.
What has been your greatest challenge this past year?
The greatest challenge for me over the past year has been learning to effectively managing a wide variety of academic, clinical, and research responsibilities across different settings. This is my fifth year in the clinical program; with trying to finish my dissertation and submitting internship applications it might have been my busiest.
What areas of research are you interested in?
Broadly, I am interested in studying the impact of chronic stress, physical injury, and emotional trauma on overall wellbeing. I plan to pursue a career researching interdisciplinary approaches to physical and psychosocial rehabilitation.
What do you plan to research for your dissertation?
My dissertation research is examining the cross-cultural assessment of psychological symptoms among Somali refugees. Seattle has one of the largest Somali communities in the United States; my goal is to provide data regarding the culture-specific presentation of symptoms among Somalis in order to help other healthcare professionals provide them with the best care possible.
What is your greatest accomplishment in graduate school so far?
My dissertation feels like my greatest accomplishment because it is the first research project on which I’ve been the principle investigator. There are a number of responsibilities associated with that designation that I don’t think that I fully appreciated before going through the process for myself.
Where will you be going for your internship? What are you most looking forward to?
I will be completing my internship at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital in Tampa, FL. As one of four Polytrauma Rehabilitation Centers in the VA System of Care, the Tampa VA offers exceptional supervision opportunities in my particular areas of interest. Along with the Florida sunshine, that’s the thing that I am most looking forward to.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
The biggest piece of advice I could provide is to be very thoughtful and intentional about your choice of a graduate program. The process of earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology can be trying at times, both personally and professionally. For me, it has been crucial to train in environments that are not only productive but also supportive of my individual growth.
Any other experiences you are currently looking forward to in this coming year?
I am looking forward to completing my final dissertation defense and transitioning into internship. Graduate school has been such a positive experience but I am excited to move into the next phase of my career.
What do you do in your spare time away from graduate school?
I love to travel, to destinations near and far. I am taking a trip to France this year and will be driving from Seattle to Florida within the next few months for internship. In terms of hobbies, I am a big baseball fan and might spend a little too much time watching games throughout the season.
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