Prospective Students: Meet Our People | View Archives
Name: Jordan Simonson
Grew up in: Wausau, Wisconsin
Degrees held: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2008.
Degree Currently Pursuing: Doctorate in Clinical Psychology
Intended career path post doctorate: I like working with clients because it allows you to clearly see the impact you can have on others' lives. At this point, I think my ideal situation would be splitting my time between inpatient and community mental health settings. Research and/or academia is looking more and more appealing though.
What teacher or professor has been most influential in your life?
Probably the most influential teacher in my life has been my grandfather. We spent a lot of time together when I was growing up. He taught me things about nature, science, and life. I'll never forget one of the most profound things he ever taught me: "The secret to life and happiness is doing a job you love to do, that way you look forward to every day." I have used the knowledge he has passed on to me to guide my decisions in life.
Tell us a bit about your decision to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology?
Clinical psychology was a decision I came to relatively early. My mother worked in a variety of community mental health roles as I was growing up and I enjoyed both hearing about the things she was doing and visiting her at work. It always seemed like such a challenge, an on-going process that was never quite the same. I think it is that aspect of challenge that initially drew me to clinical psychology and continues to inspire me.
Why Seattle Pacific University?
Honestly, I think a lot of my friends and family members were surprised by my choice of SPU. I came from a large undergraduate university and loved it, but for graduate school I was much more concerned with feeling at home with the faculty I would interact with regularly. I also wanted a program that would prepare me for both practice and research. Upon interviewing at SPU, I knew I had found a good match both with my advisor, Dr. Amy Mezulis, and the program. Coming to SPU from such a large school has definitely been an adjustment, but I am very happy with my decision overall.
What has been your greatest challenge this past year?
My greatest challenge this past year has been establishing a realistic schedule to balance school and personal life. I have often found that graduate school is actually easier on me than it is on my friends and loved ones. While I don't mind putting in long hours and having a somewhat irregular schedule, difficulties arise when I try to incorporate others into my life. Fortunately, I think I am finally starting to accomplish this.
What areas of research are you interested in?
I started graduate school interested in how socialization practices influence cognitive and behavioral processes implicated in psychopathology. Since then, I have become increasingly focused on even earlier antecedents to those processes, such as temperamental and personality features. It is amazing to me that characteristics present in first few years of life can be associated with patterns in the way people interpret and respond to events over a lifetime. I think that the interaction of temperament and socialization will continue to be an area of focus in the field, especially when prevention and intervention strategies are considered.
What do you plan to research for your dissertation?
I am not sure yet. One of my thoughts is examining the mechanisms mediating the relation between temperament and maladaptive cognitive styles.
What is your greatest accomplishment in graduate school so far?
I am just finishing work on the first paper I have written using data that I collected from start to finish. Getting this submitted to a journal will be my greatest accomplishment in graduate school so far.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Figure out (to the best of your ability) what you love to do, what you would do everyday without external incentive. If that is clinical psychology, spend some time investigating people in the field. One of the things I found helpful was looking at the faculty at my undergraduate institution and their advisors, peers, and graduate students. Graduate school is a long journey; if nothing else, make sure that you start that journey in a comfortable place working with people you respect and admire.
Any experiences are you currently looking forward to in this coming year?
I have recently been notified that a paper symposium my advisor and I put together has been accepted. I am looking forward to (and dreading) giving my first talk at a professional conference.
What do you do in your spare time away from graduate school?
I love to bike and do it as often as I can. Nothing beats riding through the countryside with friends, enjoying basic interaction with the environment. There is a simplicity to it, a beauty that all too often is lost in the complex, non-stop lives we lead. On my bike, everything else fades into the background and for a short time I feel, without thought. It's the perfect compliment graduate studies.
Learn about more Clinical Psychology Students. Visit the Meet Our People Archives.