Pursuing a Ph.D. in School Psychology to become a strong resource and advocate for children and families

DJ - Laura K.H.(1c) 2My name is Laura KerryHenkel and I am approaching the final phases of completing a Ph.D. in School Psychology. I am working on my dissertation and will be starting an internship in the fall. I expect to graduate in May 2016. I am pursuing this degree because I am committed to working in public schools, and I feel that my education will help me to become a strong resource and advocate for children and families who need additional academic and social-emotional supports. In my capacity as a school psychologist, I can help teachers and administrators to provide strong academic and social supports to all students, to identify and support students who need additional help, and to pinpoint areas of difficulty and potential interventions for those students with the most needs. As a school psychologist, I will also be able to support individual students and small groups with counseling and social skills lessons.

On a personal note, I believe that I qualify as having overcome obstacles for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I was raised in a pretty typical middle-class family, but everything changed in the summer of 1984 when my 16-year-old sister committed suicide. I was 13 years old, and suddenly everything changed. I started making wrong choices to deal with the pain, including using and abusing alcohol and drugs. I was on a tear for about five years before I realized that I needed to stop and figure out something else to do. My behavior was embarrassing, and I could not control what would happen when I was using. I ended up going into drug and alcohol rehab at the tender age of 18. I have been clean and sober since April 10, 1989.

In the years since I have gone to school—a long time—and become a special education teacher in the hopes of helping kids who need the most support. A few years ago I decided that I wanted to do something different but still wanted to work with children in the public schools, so I began pursuing a Ph.D. degree in school psychology. I consider myself a non-traditional student because I started the Ph.D. program at the age of 39 and had four young children. Also, I have had to work full-time throughout my graduate program. Finishing my degree will be a huge milestone in my life, and I hope to continue to do good work for students in schools, in addition to modeling a physically and emotionally healthy life for my children.

We are proud to announce Laura KerryHenkel is one of the current DiversityJobs Scholarship finalists. Vote for her essay (Facebook ‘Like’ and other social media sharing options in left column), click the ‘heart’ just above comments section below, and/or leave comments of support to help us with the selection process.


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  • I’ve had the pleasure of working with Laura for many years in an elementary school setting where she was, and continues to be a role model for me both personally and professionally. Laura cares a great deal for kids, and has shown time and time again she will do whatever it takes to help. I cannot think of a more deserving recipient. Any students who will have the opportunity to work with Laura will be extremely lucky.

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