McNair Gave Haikalis the Confidence and Skills to Thrive

Posted June 28, 2017 by unlmcnair
Categories: Graduate School, MSRE, Research & Internships, UNL McNair Alumni

Michelle Haikalis (McNair Scholar 2009-2012) earned her master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2014 and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at UNL in the same field. Below, Michelle describes how the McNair Scholars Program provided her with the confidence to pursue graduate-level study and the skills to thrive in her research and coursework.

The Ronald E. McNair Program was absolutely vital to my success in pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Although my mother was unable to finish her undergraduate degree, she taught me about the importance of education in order to develop critical thinking skills and open up doors for career possibilities. Thanks to her, I greatly valued education upon entering college, but knew little about post-undergraduate education or how to prepare for it. I would have been lost navigating the process of pursuing a graduate degree alone. Further, because I did not have models in my personal life of people who had attained Ph.D.’s, it was hard for me to know if I had what it took, or could develop the skills needed, to excel at the doctoral level.

The McNair Scholars Program identified my uncultivated potential and filled in the gaps from my background. Specifically, McNair provided me with opportunities to build critical skills necessary for success at the doctoral level and bolstered my confidence so that I would pursue the challenge of graduate school. The intensive research experiences central to the McNair Program helped me to build important research skills and knowledge that have served as an essential foundation—a foundation that I will continue to build upon throughout my career as a clinical scientist.

Haikalis_Michelle_blog.jpg

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When Life Hands You Lemons… (and you have a Paper Due)

Posted June 21, 2017 by unlmcnair
Categories: Graduate School, MSRE, Research & Internships, Study Skills

By Jenn Andersen, McNair graduate assistant and UNL McNair Alum

We all know that college (and graduate school) is hard enough on a good day, but what happens when life gets hard too? When you consider the mental and physical health issues many college students face themselves, as well as family issues that happen back home, it can get pretty daunting to be a college student. For example, more than 30% of students in college are dealing with the death of a parent or close friend within the past two years (Balk et al., 2010). Almost 20% of those students are at risk of withdrawing from college (Plaskac et al., 2011).

I’m here to tell you, however, that there is support available to help you get through these situations. I bet you’re asking yourself, “How would she know?”, and it’s because I’ve been there myself. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes my second semester of grad school, and my Dad passed away from ALS a year later during my second year of grad school. That made for a rough year or so, but I succeeded in earning my Master’s degree and am moving on to my PhD. Read the rest of this post »

The MSRE Project that Keeps on Giving

Posted June 15, 2017 by unlmcnair
Categories: Graduate School, MSRE

by Jenn Andersen, McNair graduate assistant and UNL McNair Alum

My MSRE project kept me busy, not only during the first summer, but also during my senior year, the summer after that, and through my first year and a half of graduate school. My project isn’t something I’m now studying (I switched disciplines for graduate school), but it gave me a head start on my graduate school work. Here are some ideas for making your MSRE project the gift that keeps on giving.

  1. Use your MSRE project as a senior thesis (dependent on department). UNL’s College of Arts and Sciences requires a senior thesis to graduate with highest distinction, and to ensure graduating with high distinction or distinction. I used my project (with some added work) as my senior thesis. Check with your department on how your paper might help you work towards this goal.
  1. Use it as your writing sample for graduate school applications. You have worked very hard on getting your MSRE project done. Why not use it as your writing sample for graduate school applications? This is especially important if you are applying for graduate school the Fall semester after MSRE.

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Getting the most out of MSRE: Grad School Boot Camp

Posted June 8, 2017 by unlmcnair
Categories: Graduate School, MSRE, Research & Internships, Study Skills

by Jenn Andersen, McNair graduate assistant and UNL McNair Alum

Graduate school is an eye-opening experience for all new graduate students (myself included). Grading policies are stricter, workloads are often intimidating, and then there is the ever-present imposter syndrome—the feeling that maybe you don’t belong in graduate school. But, guess what? MSRE is a great time to get the grad school experience without leaving the comforts of UNL.

Three challenges that are often reported by first year graduate students are (a) time management, (b) amount of reading due/understanding the reading, and (c) graduate level writing (Schramm-Possinger & Powers, 2015). In addition, first year graduate students have to learn how to motivate themselves without the undergraduate structure they are used to and with other duties like teaching or research. Sound familiar? It is pretty close to the day-to-day experience you are having right now, right? This is why my MSRE mentor called me and her other McNair scholar ‘grad-students-in-training.’

So how do you make the most of the MSRE experience so you won’t be as shocked when you jump in the grad school pool? I’m going to share five tips that might just help you out. Read the rest of this post »

McNair Alumni Spotlight: Melissa Norberg, Ph.D.

Posted June 7, 2017 by unlmcnair
Categories: Accomplishments, Graduate School, UNL McNair Alumni

I grew up in a small, rural town in Nebraska. Few people, myself included, thought I was smart. Rather than taking physics and geometry classes during high school, I opted for remedial math, home economics, and making the high school yearbook. Through what seemed like luck, rather than intellect, I became the high school yearbook editor.

Becoming editor of the yearbook encouraged me to obtain a university degree. While at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I took a “Careers in Psychology” class that put me on the path to becoming an academic clinical psychologist. That class taught me that it would be a long and competitive path. So, I followed its advice. I maintained a high GPA,  volunteered, and obtained research experience. However, that research experience was in the field of perception, which while highly useful in teaching me about research methodology, it taught me little about conducting clinical research.

During the final year of my undergraduate degree, I was accepted into the McNair program. The McNair program linked me up with Dr. Debra Hope, an academic clinical psychologist. Under Dr. Hope’s supervision, I completed an Honors project that examined the role that clients’ expectations have on therapy outcomes. Conducting research in Dr. Hope’s lab allowed me to gain the exact type of clinical research experience I needed to be accepted into a doctoral program for clinical psychology. During graduate school, I led a team of students in developing an empirically-based instrument to measure clients’ expectations about treatment. This measure was published and has been translated into a handful of different languages by other researchers. Thus, the influence of the McNair Program and Dr. Hope did not end with my undergraduate degree.

Melissa Norberg conducting research into hoarding with Julia Irwin.Photo courtesy of Chris Stacey

I am now an Associate Professor and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University. Macquarie University’s psychology department is ranked within the top 100 psychology departments in the world and the Centre for Emotional Health is one of the premier research centers on anxiety in the world.

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You’re Prepared for MSRE, but What About FOMO?

Posted May 26, 2017 by unlmcnair
Categories: Graduate School, MSRE

by Jess Tate, UNL McNair Graduate Assistant

Trust me, you’ve felt it before, but maybe didn’t know how to label the feeling. Fear of Missing Out, also known as FOMO is a real thing and common phenomenon in the 21st century among many, and particularly salient for aspiring and current graduate students. In 2013, “FOMO” was added to the Oxford English Dictionary and is formally defined as, “a feeling of anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere.” Another definition put forth by researchers describes FOMO as ‘‘the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out – that your peers are doing, in the know about, or in possession of more or something better than you” (JWT, 2012).

During the McNair Summer Research Experience (MSRE), you’ll get an early opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a full-time graduate student. In this role, it’s possible that may experience FOMO at times…and that’s okay! This may be the first time you’ve had to miss out on social engagements with friends or going home for the weekend because of your new role as an emerging researcher during MSRE.

Impact of FOMO
Now that we have a term to label this phenomenon we must add into the equation your life as a McNair scholar and future graduate student. Demands and deadlines associated with research and applying for graduate school will confront you daily, and you can probably start to imagine the reality of missing out on exciting opportunities, whether social or academic, because of these demands and deadlines. Adding to the fear and anxiety is the wonderful world of social media that’s filled with our peers and family members posting filtered vacation pics, engagement rings, job promotions, etc. while many of us students and researchers are focused on our next paper or presentation—this is likely to elicit some ambivalent feelings.

Recent research studies have shown that FOMO is correlated with feelings of disconnection and dissatisfaction (Przybylsk, Murayama, DeHann, & Fladwell 2013) and guess what the leading culprit is? Social media. We often forget that the personas promoted on Facebook are largely fabricated, and most people only show their “best sides.” However, we still fall victim to FOMO whether we like to admit it or not. For example, it’s normal to feel regret for missing out on a social outing with friends because you have made the decision to stay at your office and finish a project or experiment, but then you see the Snaps and Instagram photos and FOMO sets in. Wortham (2011) proposes that FOMO may be a source of negative mood or depressed feelings in part because it undermines the sense that one has made the best decisions in life. But, you’ve made a great decision by choosing to participate in MSRE and you will be happy with your decision years down the road—trust me!

How to Combat FOMO during MSRE?

  • As you participate in MSRE it is essential that you become honest with yourself, career and life goals, and learn to trust your decision and pursuit of an advanced degree.
  • Find a balance between social engagements, hobbies, and academics.
  • Confide in your MSRE cohort because you have many shared goals, shared frustrations, and will soon be able to share and celebrate the success of having made it through MSRE together.
  • Do A Social Media Reality Check
    • Be conscious of your social media use
    • Take social media “Holidays” or “self-care” breaks from social media
    • Challenge yourself to take a break from social media during MSRE.
    • Find a balance between on-line and off-line activities
  • Seek out resources, such as counseling, and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you begin to develop a persistent negative and depressed mood. Not addressing this will impact your productivity during MSRE and as a graduate student.
  • See the “10 Ways to Overcome FOMO

FOMOGraphic citation: buzz feed

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I Went to Berkeley… And Got Much More Than a T-Shirt

Posted July 28, 2016 by unlmcnair
Categories: Uncategorized

by Jenn Andersen, McNair Graduate Assistant

Having been in your shoes just two years ago, I know that MSRE goes by much quicker than you ever anticipated. It’s a lot of work, and California McNair Symposium at UC-Berkeley is the finish line. So what do you do now? Here are five things you should do once you are back in Nebraska.

1. Reflect on your experiences. What did you get out of MSRE? The reflective essay is one of the most important assignments you will do as a McNair Scholar. Think about your experiences, what you’ve learned, and how you felt during your first year as a McNair Scholar. Writing this essay helped me to see how far I’d come and how ready I was to be a graduate student. Reading it again after graduation and before starting my graduate program gave me insight into how I’ve grown as a scholar since MSRE.

2. Take a break. One of the most important things about ending MSRE is taking a break once it’s over. If your experience was anything like mine, you lived in your lab, worked on your paper, poster and PowerPoint once you were home, and still had to take care of real-life issues. Make sure you enjoy the last little bit of time before the GRE and applying to graduate school take over. Learning how to do this now will serve you well in achieving a good school-life balance.

3. Get your name out there! Email the people you made contact with at the Berkeley Symposium. Contact potential mentors at graduate schools.  Make appointments to talk with UNL professors to discuss your future goals. You never know when one of those connections will help you. See Abe Flanigan’s July 16, 2015 McNair blog post about networking for tips and ideas! https://unlmcnair.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/finding-a-graduate-program-thats-right-for-you/

4. Keep up with your research. One of the best things about taking part in MSRE is the skills and knowledge you gain in your field. Leverage this to start work on your senior thesis! Keep working on your project or start a new one. You can always spend some time in a new lab for a different perspective.

5. Start prepping for Graduate School applications.If you’re graduating within the next year, graduate application deadlines will be here before you know it. If you have another year, this is the time to work on getting your materials together.

  • Start narrowing down your list of graduate schools.
  • Take the GRE within the next month after the end of MSRE.
  • Explore websites like McNairScholars.com for ideas on where to find funding, either for current research or for your future graduate career.
  • Reach out to your faculty recommenders and make sure you know what they need to complete your letters. Professors may have very exacting standards for their letter packets.
  • The more you do now, the less you need to do before the due date!