Psychology Pre Grad Intern Shama Momin

Shama MominI was very reluctant joining the IE program at first because I honestly thought it would be time consuming and frankly, just a waste of time. I was completely wrong. Everyone I talked to in the CCD Lab kept telling me how great the IE program is and how much they've learned from doing it. I decided to join the IE program in hopes of learning more about graduate school, what the life of a graduate student is like, and ultimately figuring out if my choice to go to graduate school is the one for me.

I come from a working class family and I'm the first one to ever go so far in education. I'm at UT, one of the top schools in Texas and I'm receiving the best education. My parents have done their job; they've accomplished what they've always wanted for me. By joining the IE program and going through graduate school applications, the search for multiple schools, professors, and trying to determine what my actual research interests are, I've definitely learned more than I expected.

Being involved in the CCD Lab for over 2 years, I learned a lot about research and that Psychology has a whole other side that I've never seen before. I only assumed that if you were a psychology major, you'd go on to become a clinician or a therapist. I knew I would not be a good fit as a clinician nor a therapist and I didn't know what to do. Nicole, my mentor, showered me with the types of paths psychology majors take and academia stood out to me the most.

I've always been involved with teaching and advocate higher education so learning that I could take my interests and teach at a university seemed appealing and the perfect fit for me. I did a ton of research, asked so many different people questions about academia and how they went about the process. Going to graduate school was something I was confident about and wanted to pursue higher education but I didn't want to pursue clinical psychology. The IE program opened my eyes to the many possibilities out there. There is in fact no one path for everyone, you don't have to follow those before you. You can choose what you want to do and how you get there does not matter as long as you are happy and capable of what is expected of you. Just because I want to go into academia does not mean that I follow what other psychology students have done or tweak my research interests based off of the faculty members' I would like to work with. You must be confident and excited to show off your own ideas and research interests. That's how it'll help you be successful.

During the IE program, I went through hundreds of faculty members, schools, and articles in Social Psychology. At first my heart was set on returning to UT for graduate school but I found that my research interests didn't match any of the faculty here in the psychology department. I was extremely upset and even attempted to force myself into being remotely interested in what some professors here have been working on. At the end I was not able to do it because I knew I would not be happy. This is when I realized that I don't need to go to UT for graduate school because there are many amazing schools out there with faculty members who are actually studying what my interests are. With the help of my professors and mentor, I was happy to find two great Texas schools who have faculty that are currently working on what I'm interested in.

Applying to graduate schools is overwhelming but going to the IE meetings and listening to other students, undergraduate and graduate, talk about their experiences or how graduate school is like for them, has assured me that graduate school is the path for me and academia is really what I want for myself and the future. Throughout this semester and the process of graduate school applications, I found what I'm truly interested in investigating.

Social psychology has always been fascinating to me but I felt discouraged when I tried to come up with what I, myself, would want to study because I was never able to come up with a specific research interest. This scared me. But actually gathering information from the social psychology courses I've taken, reading through articles, with the assistance of my mentor, and relating to what's happened in my life, I finally knew what I was going to focus on in graduate school.

Social rejection is something we've all been through in one way or another. I've been through it many times myself and the only time I've actually escaped social rejection was here at UT. I knew this is exactly what I want to investigate and study. Without the guidance and the of the IE program and the opportunities it has endowed me with, I would not have been fortunate to be able to craft my own path and my own ideas. I am now one step closer to my goals and the skills I've gained throughout this internship have adequately prepared me for graduate school and beyond. I've gained hands on experience in research and how to implement and conduct experiments, how to do data analysis and so much more. There are not enough words to say for my gratitude towards the IE program and my mentor. I know that the knowledge I've acquired this semester will be continuously applied to all parts of my life for as long as a live.

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Shama Momin was accepted to and will enroll in Columbia’s psychology in education graduate program next fall (2016). “The path to your career comes in various forms. This is what I've learned from participating in the IE mentorship program. I worked as a research assistant in a few labs, leading me to become passionate about research in general. However, IE helped enhance this passion and I was encouraged to apply to Columbia University because of IE. Being accepted into the Masters of Arts program in Psychology in Education, I will be able to incorporate everything I have learned from the labs and integrate it with my research interests. I now can find a career that I want to pursue. When I complete my PhD I aspire to work in academia as a professor and researcher. IE was the first step—and Columbia is the next step, helping me find what is truly intriguing.”