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Name: Amanda Herges
Grew up in: Alexandria, Minnesota
Degrees held: Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology, Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology
Degree Currently Pursuing: Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
Intended career path post doctorate: Clinical Neuropsychology
What teacher or professor has been most influential in your life? Hard to choose...there are two and I cannot talk about one and not the other. The first would be my first psychology teacher in high school Kelly Hillbrands. She is an intelligent and energetic educator who introduced me to the field of psychology (the 1st time it was ever taught in my high school) and my world was forever changed. She gave me the opportunity to study phenomena of human behavior that I found fascinating and she encouraged me to study in the area which I love...Psychology.
The second is my current academic advisor, chair of my dissertation committee, and Clinical Psychology faculty, Dr. Amy Mezulis. Amy has pushed and challenged me to use my knowledge and skills to the best of my ability and taught me that I can always grow and improve my skills. She has a personal understanding and interest in every student she teaches and encourages creativity, diligence, and competence. I love Amy because she loves working with students, loves her work as a research, and she is a model researcher, professor, and clinician. Her support and encouragement have been fundamental to my development as a clinical psychologist.
Tell us a bit about your decision to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology? My decision to pursue a career in clinical psychology develop from my life long interest in listening to others and observing behavior. My greatest joy in life has come from volunteering and giving myself to others. It is relatively natural for me to exist in the moment with any given person and truly understand his or her emotions at that moment. I have found that we all have experiences in our lives in which we need the help of another and I find that my life feels as though it has the most meaning and purpose when I can be an individual who is available to another who needs assistance or understanding. My initial interest in clinical psychology developed from my work volunteering with my own peers in high school who were members of a special olympics sports team. My role was to provide some physical assistance but was primarily to be supportive and to communicate to these students that I not only cared but valued their growth and participation.
Why Seattle Pacific University? There were a number of factors contributing to my choice of Seattle Pacific University. First, SPU offers a rigorous and thorough program sequence. Second, when I interviewed at SPU I found the faculty open to ideas and experiences of students and individuals of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Third, the faculty members are knowledgeable and extremely competent clinicians and researchers. Finally, the program and school are large enough to offer a superior working environment and resources but is small enough to provide one-on-one student/professor interaction as well as networking within and between departments.
What has been your greatest challenge this past year? My greatest challenge this past year has been finding a delicate balance between my personal and professional life. Academia in the field of psychology is a challenging and more importantly, satisfying field. However, professional goals as well as the demands of a graduate level program can be overwhelming at times. Knowing my boundaries and considering my personal health and happiness can at times be a set aside to achieve my goals. I have learned that it is essential for me to know my own limits and needs as well as the needs of my family and friends to ensure that I am not neglecting that which is most important in my life...love and support. That said, personal health and well-being may also influence my clients and research projects, thus balance between personal and professional activities is necessary for success in my life.
What areas of research are you interested in? My current areas of interest in research include questions related to health, psychological symptoms, and cognitive functioning in individuals who have brain injuries, neurodegenerative diseases, dementia, and other symptoms that contribute to difficulties with thinking abilities. I am also interested in understanding how we assess cognitive functioning including memory, attention, and problem-solving.
What do you plan to research for your dissertation? My dissertation research examines the influence of coping on the relationship between stress and depression individuals who have brain injuries.
Are you teaching any courses? I will be teaching an undergraduate intro to statistics course during the fall of 2009.
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