Q&A with Melissa Smith
California School of Education at Alliant International University
Master of Arts in Education – School Psychology
School Psychologist with Ukiah Unified School District
Q: How did your Alliant experience contribute to your career growth?
A: I entered into the Alliant educational psychology program to pursue school psychology and my PPS credential. My cohort and professors played a huge role in preparing me for my career in schools working with special education students. I was grateful to have full access to my professors not only during class, but during the week to help guide me with my homework and in my practicum hours and internship hours. Starting and finishing my program with the same group of students was tremendously helpful, as we were able to form study groups and bounce scenarios off each other, giving different perspectives in our field of study.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your work?
A: Being in the field of school psychology, I have enjoyed that there are some constants to my job. This includes cognitive testing, writing reports, and attending Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. However, each day with students is different and never boring. I respond to student emergencies, attend TIERS meetings, conduct classroom observations, and collaborate with teachers and other education specialists through associated county programs. Each day brings a new experience.
Q: What inspires you to make a positive difference in the world?
A: For as long as I can think back, I have enjoyed working with children. I wasn't sure at first how I wanted to incorporate that into my life, but when I found school psychology, everything I wanted in a career fell into place. I have immensely enjoyed working with special education students on an individual and group level. Helping to make sure they receive all the services they need brings me great joy. Every milestone they reach is a triumph that I will cherish and solidifies my chosen path as a school psychologist.
Q: Do you have any advice for current students?
A: Make as many connections as you can with your professors, cohort members, and other practicing school psychologists. You will more than likely have a different practicum supervisor and internship supervisor. Ask them questions, ask them how you can improve, and ask what you have been successful with. Go to conferences where you can meet other school psychologists, attend trainings, and take as many opportunities as possible that are offered to you by your school district to continue learning in your field. Remember, every new experience teaches you something, good or bad.