Jessica Hernandez is a third-year school psychology graduate student at Trinity University. She also attended Trinity for undergrad where she majored in Psychology and Business. During her undergraduate years, Jessica explored her interest in Education by taking courses in the department. It was there that one of her professors introduced her to the School Psychology program. After hearing about the graduate degree, Jessica knew that she wanted to stick around Trinity and pursue it as she loved the education she received and felt like she fit in well within Trinity’s culture.
Q: Why did you decide to study school psychology?
A: I have always really enjoyed the process of learning in general. As an undergraduate, I worked in the cognition lab here with Dr. Hertel and took some of her classes and just became fascinated with the concept of learning. Everybody learns at different rates and learning may not come as easily to some people. It’s like a puzzle, you're trying to figure out what it is that a student needs and how to best support them. I've always enjoyed working with kids and that intersection of education and psychology, so the process of learning, but also the act of learning that comes with education. I feel like school psychology was the intersection of the two. So for me it was just like a natural fit, where it was these two concepts that I really like. I like the structure of schools, and I've always wanted to be a part of the school system but always knew I didn't want to be a teacher or administrator. I mean, who knows, that might change but right now I just wanted to be somewhere that was a mix of the two.
Q: What drew you to pursuing this program?
A: I may have looked at other programs, but knowing Trinity, I just knew the sort of education that I would get here would be something that was really sound and recognized throughout the city. Plus, I don't want to go outside of San Antonio. I grew up here, went to Trinity, and wanted to stick around. The difference between other programs and Trinity is that others are a lot more impersonal. Whereas here in my experience in undergrad people are invested in you as a student, your education, and they really care about your learning. All the professors that I've had in this program, at the end of the day, all they care about is us learning and being able to give us an opportunity to learn from them and learn more. They're working in the schools every day and can give us that inside knowledge on how things work.
Q: What do you like about the field you are studying?
A: I think the opportunity to not only work with students but parents as well. Sometimes this is the first time parents are hearing about their child having any sort of difficulties, and you get to be that person who is there for them to explain what is going on. You can tell them how the school is going to support them and how they [the parents] can support them. You can also explain some of the differences they may or may not have noticed in their child. I like being the person who is able to advocate for the students and be there to bridge that gap between the parents and school.
Q: What has your practicum experience been like?
A: I sit in a lot of ARD (Admission, Review, and Dismissal) meetings, and I feel like I learn best from observing. I get to work directly with an LSSP (Licensed Specialist in School Psychology) and see how she operates and how she interacts with them. I think it's a really good learning opportunity for me personally, because I learn best from seeing the behavior being modeled. So I get that opportunity with the district that I'm with.
Q: What is a habit or a skill that you recommend entering this field, that one can just start working on developing?
A: Within the school system, I would say adaptability. Even within the program, I think there's something to be said about being okay with not knowing everything and being okay with going with the flow. Maybe you don't have a rubric for this assignment, but there's not a rubric for how to evaluate kids. I see it as a form of helping me for the future, how life and the job is going to go. There's not going to be a script for everything, and I'm not going to know everything. Trying to see it that way as opposed to being like, I don't have a rubric so I can't get the highest grade because I don't know what the grading criteria is. There's no grade when we are working. So just trying to sort of look at it like that, just being adaptable to the situation and open to feedback and taking that feedback without being defensive. This is the time where we're allowed to fail and learn from our failures. There's nothing wrong with doing something wrong. There's nothing wrong with asking questions, and I think a lot of times people struggle with that.