Rachel Schein (RS): My name is Rachel Schein and I am a 2nd year student at GIPP. Today I am talking with Jordana Klein, also a 2nd year student at the Graduate Institute of Professional Psychology. So Jordana, tell us a little bit about yourself. For example, where are you from? Where did you grow up, go to college etc? What are your personal interests outside of psychology?
Jordana Klein (JK): I grew up on Long Island and went to the Solomon Shechter Day school. For college, I went to George Washington University in DC, and then moved to New York to do research for a year before coming to GIPP. In terms of my personal interests, I enjoy exercising and I am very involved in the Jewish community.
RS: Why did you choose GIPP?
JK: I loved the non-competitive and accepting environment that was portrayed throughout the application and interview process. The faculty has a “take one day at a time” mentality, and that fits very well with my personality.
RS: What do you do outside of the program – work, volunteer? Do you have a job? Do you find that you can make money while in school?
JK: I don’t personally have a job because I felt for me that it was more important to focus on my academic, clinical and research experience while in graduate school. I do an odd job here and there, and, because I worked for a year before coming to school, I was able to tap into my previous income.
RS: What are your interests within psychology? Research focus, population?
JK: Clinically, I am primarily interested in working with adolescents. My research interests are in loss and bereavement work. I am also currently investigating commercial content with Dr. Dale and Dr. Pidano, looking at negative and positive modeling, as well as sexual, violent and disturbing content. Clinically, the loss and bereavement piece fits in as well.
RS: What were your expectations of the program when you came here?
JK: I think I expected pretty much what I got. I expected supportive staff, good experience, active class discussions, and I feel like I got all of those pieces. You never expect how much work it entails and the juggling and time management. So that piece you can never be prepared for if you’ve never had it before. But I think the program makes it easy to fit all of those pieces together.
RS: How was the transition for you from undergraduate to graduate school?
JK: I think having the extra year in between was very helpful. All undergraduate schools are different. Some might expect more work, but I feel that, in graduate school, they really stress taking care of ourselves and make sure that were always checking in to make sure where we want to be. I think that’s a really key piece, even where there’s more work and juggling than in undergraduate, it is doable.
RS: What have you liked best about the program so far?
JK: What I’ve enjoyed the most has been my practicum experience. It’s been a wonderful fit for me. As well as relationships with faculty that I’ve developed through research and classes. I feel that they’ve advised and gone above and beyond what their job entails for the students.
RS: What are some of the strengths of the program?
JK: I think the strengths of the program are the caliber of faculty and students. I think it comprises how our experiences are in the program. The faculty stay overtime. The students are working on so many different activities and programs, and present such interesting information. Having so many different personalities in one room really makes the program what it is.
RS: What are some of the things that need to be improved?
JK: I think what needs to be improved on is the definitions of the child and adolescent track, and what courses go where. I think there needs to be more work in terms of the differences within the two tracks. I think there have been great strides made so far but more work needs to be done.
RS: You described the student-faculty relationship as strong. Can you talk a little bit more about this? Do you have a specific faculty mentor that you identify with?
JK: I think people sometimes, prior to their experience, expect that the faculty member you’ll be closest with is the one with similar research interests, and I think that the faculty is really looking for what you’re interested in and helping you achieve that. It’s really not about the faculty’s interests, but helping the students find out what is interesting to them and catering to those needs and interests. They really want the students to excel and be a part of research, poster presentations, papers. They really want the students to be involved and advise beyond which class to take, and more on life issues.
RS: How about the relationships with students? What are they like within the classes and across the years?
JK: I think every year brings in a different class and different dynamics. You make the best of what you’re given and people will always be different. Within the classroom, I feel that everyone is accepting of everyone else’s’ opinion, and respectful and non-competitive. I think people really want everyone to succeed, and working in that environment is helpful and makes you be more productive.
RS: Do you find that you’re able to connect with people in other years at all?
JK: I think that they have done a really nice job of creating a mentor program as well as having third years advise pre-practicum students. I feel that having two or three people that you really connect with is plenty to support you through your graduate school experience, but it is nice to have the older students advise you.
RS: How do you think that the program’s commitment to diversity is manifested?
JK: I didn’t realize how much the program catered to diversity issues until I actually got here. It has opened up my mind to think about situations differently, particularly clinical situations. It’s incorporated into every class and every situation. Having the Diversity Conference and becoming involved with that committee was really helpful in seeing the possibilities of where the program is going.
RS: What has been your most rewarding experience thus far?
JK: In the classroom, learning the theories of personality and having such an intellectual and critical thinking discussion about the theories, and bouncing off ideas. Really embracing what the academic experience is supposed to be, discussing the theories behind what we are practicing.
RS: Where do you see yourself after graduating from here?
JK: I see myself working with an agency, balancing a family with my career. I would like to be in a private practice down the road, but first I would like to work in a community agency as well as supervise other students.
RS: Where do you live and what is it like?
JK: I live on the border of West Hartford and Hartford and it seems shady, but it’s not. The apartment complex is small, warm, and friendly and is near everything I need.
RS: Is there anything else you would like to add?
JK: If I had to describe GIPP in three words they would be: non-judgmental, collaborative, and encouraging.