Meet Kirstin Sylvester: Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. student

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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Media Contact: Katie Lacey | Communication specialist | 760-878-8967 | [email protected]

Kirstin Sylvester had originally planned to work in medicine, but after taking a course in child psychology at her undergraduate facility, she realized she was better placed to provide therapy services. Sylvester chose to pursue his doctorate at Oklahoma State University because of the special opportunities offered by the Counseling Psychology program. Sylvester shared some of these opportunities and experiences:

What factors helped you decide to come to Oklahoma State University?

I chose to go to Oklahoma State University because of the structure of my program, its flexibility to student interests, and financial opportunities. The Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. The program at OSU offers a fast track, opportunities to form new research groups, and paid clinical internship sites off campus. Participating in OSU exceeded my expectations. I am grateful to my educational advisor, Dr. Sue C. Jacobs, who has always supported my research efforts and disseminated professional and financial development opportunities with my goals in mind.

How did you choose your specialty?

My initial career goal during my undergraduate studies was to become a child psychiatrist. I took pre-medical summer programs, completed all pre-medical courses, and passed the MCAT. It was not until I took a course in childhood psychopathology in my senior year that I realized that my passion for providing therapeutic services outweighed medicine and my theoretical orientation did not match the models used. in the field of psychiatry. After completing my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, I chose to complete my PhD. in the psychology counseling subfield due to the emphasis on preventive care, strengths and social justice.

What activities or organizations have you been involved with in OSU?

I am part of the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) at OSU and serve as president for the 2021-2022 academic year. BGSA is dedicated to enhancing the experience of black students graduating from Oklahoma State University. BGSA provides people in the African Diaspora with opportunities to connect, share experiences, participate in professional development, and engage in community service opportunities. A once thriving organization, the impact of graduate leadership and COVID-19 has created a lull in the organization’s function. Other board members and I are excited to continue the work of transitioning this organization from survival to prosperity. Being a part of BGSA was instrumental in establishing my sense of community at OSU.

What internship program are you a part of and how does this apply to your future career?

I am currently a counseling intern at OSU’s University Counseling Center in Stillwater. This position is in line with my future professional aspirations to work as a psychologist in a university counseling center and eventually become director of a university counseling center. I am passionate about working with college students to provide additional support in navigating life transitions, the impact of academic and life stressors on mental health or trauma affecting their daily operation. Overall, I am interested in helping students recognize and use their innate strengths to make meaningful changes in their lives.

What advice would you give to people wishing to get into this field?

My advice is to “know your why”. Often, future students have listed their “why” as a love for helping others, but what is there beyond? My desire to become a psychologist goes beyond my passion for helping others. It includes challenging the stigma associated with mental health and increasing access to mental health to communities of color, particularly on college campuses. Knowing your “why” will help you identify what you want to contribute to the field of psychology, which programs are best for you, and at times made me feel full when I normally felt exhausted.

What are your management methods?

I would describe my leadership style as collaborative, encouraging and enthusiastic. I see team members as essential parts of a whole who bring with them their own experiences which attribute to their knowledge and strengths.


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