Educational Psychology Pre-Grad Intern Martinique Jones
The Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program has truly helped me develop professionally and academically. The intimate relationship with my graduate school mentor provided me with invaluable insight that will beintegral to my academic, personal, and professional development. In addition to advice, interaction with other interns, professionals, andmentors exposed me to new paradigms regarding academia. For example, these new patterns of thought manifested into the critical thinking skillsneeded as I embark upon the graduate school application process and my professional career. The philosophy of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program includes helping individuals engage in "discovery, ownership, and accountability." As I reflect over this semester, I realized that I have experienced this transformation first hand.
Upon entering the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program, I was unaware of the endless possibilities provided in academia. This limited view of college was a result of being a second generation college student. My family as a whole does not understand the trials and sacrifices associated with college life and professional preparation. As I pursue my goal of becoming the first in my family to enter graduate school, I find myself more clueless than ever. However, the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program has provided me with a graduate student mentor knowledgeable about graduate school and its intense application process. I am proud to say I am no longer clueless because my mentor has led me through the discovery process in several arenas: personal discovery, academic discovery, and professional discovery. Ironically, the time my mentor and I spent conversing was most beneficial in helping me develop in these three areas, as opposed to time spent in a lab or conducting research. When someone else takes a general interest in your professional and academic development, it makes a world of difference to a student who often doubts their capabilities. My mentor's encouragement often helped me overcome many of the negative thoughts I had about myself as a student. Furthermore, my mentor's willingness to be vulnerable and candid during our meetings aided me in discerning what I am passionate about most. I discovered that I had a true desire and passion to improve the mental conditions of the African and African-American people.
More importantly I learned that this desire transcends into the field of psychology. Monthly, my mentor assigned me to read the works of renown black psychologists, such as Kenneth & Mammie Clark, Jean Phinney, William E. Cross, Jr, Robert Sellers and University of Texas' own Kevin Cokley. These readings encourage my academic development and exposed me to much of the scholarly work in the field of Black Psychology. This preliminary research is important as I prepare to enter the rapidly changing and growing field of psychology with a specific focus on Black Psychology. The wide variety of works I read helped me develop professionally as well. I now consider myself far more knowledgeable about the field of psychology; and, if placed in a professional setting, I would be able to speak intelligently about my goals and the works of other psychology professionals.
Through the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program I have learned that ownership is important, but not so much in traditional sense. Granted, it is important to take ownership of one's responsibilities and tasks; however, it is more so important to own up to one's abilities and talents. As a second generation African-American female student, I often feel that my abilities as a student are challenged and questioned in day to day academic and non-academic activities. My mentor shared similar experiences during her educational development. These similar experiences created a platform for open and honest discussion between the two of us, which helped me combat much of the adversity felt daily. Her confidence, boldness, and encouragement illustrated to me that I must own my strengths. I no longer dwell about those things in which I do not excel at, but rather I concentrate on the many arenas in which I do extremely well and work to improve areas in which I encounter difficulty. Something as simple as concentrating on one's strengths is specifically important to first-generation and/or minority populations who face much adversity throughout their academic lives and especially upon entering college. After the discovery period and truly owning my strengths is when I began to flourish as a novice researcher. For example, I am currently working on a project that explores achievement attitudes among high school students.This project headed by Educational Psychology Professor, Dr. Kevin Cokley, explores the relationship between racial/cultural identity, self-concept, and academic achievement. This is specifically of interest to me as Ireflect on my own development as a student. Currently my mentor, Dr. Cokley, and I are in the process of collecting questionnaires from approximately 200 students. Data from these 200 participants will be analyzed during the summer months. In August of 2009 I plan to present my preliminary findings at the Association of Black Psychologists International Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I also plan to present my findings at the McNair Scholar Program Presentation Ceremony in late August of 2009.
The Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program provided me with more than a mentor, but also an accountability partner. As one prepares for the graduate school application process and graduate school, I have learned that discipline is key. As a busy college student who is involved in the Association of Black Psychologists, Psi Chi, and many others, it is difficult to find time for anything outside of normal responsibilities. The organizational and time management capabilities of my mentor have definitely impacted my own planning skills. My mentor has helped me develop a timeline for the graduate school process and has also helped me create a spreadsheet outlining all aspects of interests associated with each institution of interest. More important than my time management and organization skills, is my ability to hold myself accountable in the areas
I struggle with. Accountability does not necessarily mean proceeding to do everything correctly, but rather being able to accept your mistakes and act responsibly and accordingly. This has truly been illustrated through my interaction with Dr. Cokley, my mentor, and their research team. During research meetings, I have come to realize that it is acceptable to make incorrect conclusions and it is even more so acceptable to have a hypothesis that is proven false. This is a part of academia that I feel is integral to one's professional development that is often not exposed to students pursuing graduate or professional study.
To conclude, the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program has been of much value to me. My mentor has helped me discover my personal, academic, and professional interests, own my academic and non-academic capabilities, and hold myself accountable for all my responsibilities and endeavors. This is just a short summary of all the ways in which I have improved through this program. There is honestly no way to truly describe all the ways in which I have grown through the various interactions I have had this semester. I hope programs such as the Intellectual Entrepreneurship Program continue to motivate and steer students such as myself to perform to their highest potential.