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MSU Profiles

Achieving the goal of making a difference

School has always been a source of great joy for graduate student Stacey Anderson. Growing up in Brookdale, Manitoba, Anderson discovered at a young age that school was her favorite place to be.

"I loved learning and the school atmosphere," recalled Anderson. "However I realized that school was not always a positive experience for children."

Anderson observed that children were too often the victims of bullying or hampered with shame when their reading levels fell below par, while other children sought refuge in a school environment that was preferable to an unsatisfactory home life.

"School is a place where intervention can occur, and where a school psychologist can step in and make a difference in a child's life," said Anderson.

Anderson decided to pursue a psychology degree at Brandon University for her undergraduate studies with the intention of applying to a graduate program in either clinical or counseling psychology upon graduation. During her final year of undergrad, Anderson attended a presentation by Paul Markel, psychology professor, and learned about the school psychology program at Minot State University.

"I always wanted to work with school-age populations," said Anderson. "Once I found out about school psychology, I realized that this was what I wanted to do all along."

Having attended a small university for her undergraduate studies, Anderson was attracted to MSU's size and access to instructors.

"Throughout my classes at Minot State, our cohort had lunches with Dr. Joseph Engler and Dr. Darren Dobrinski," said Anderson. "These lunches helped us get to know our professors and learn more about their experiences outside the classroom setting."

Anderson's classroom experiences were enhanced by several opportunities in the Minot community including Teen's Night Out, a local organization for teens with disabilities, the North Dakota Association of School Psychologists, and a graduate assistantship, which offered ample chances for preparing articles for publication, conducting relevant research, and grading statistics assignments and protocols. These experiences culminated in Anderson presenting her thesis, "Impact of Teachers on LGBTQ Youth," at the NDASP conferences in New Orleans, and Grand Forks, N.D.

The plight of many LGBTQ students inspired Anderson to write her thesis on this subject.

"This is a population of youth that are at greater risk for suicide, depression, substance abuse and school problems," warned Anderson. "Right now, I am working to make schools safer for LGTQ youth through publication and presentation of my thesis to educate school staff through LGBTQ youth perspectives. In addition, I am working to make the findings of my thesis relevant at my internship site to create an inclusive school environment for all youth."

With so many accomplishments already under her belt, Anderson points to her career goal as the fire that keeps her moving forward, to be a school psychologist who strives to make a difference in the life of every student she works with.