Ph.D. student in Psychology
Ph.D. and master’s student in clinical psychology
Gavin Sanders is a doctoral and master’s student in the Department of Psychology at Wayne State University. He’s a recipient of the AGEP National Conference and NAGAP Graduate Student Research awards.
What do you enjoy most about living/going to school in Detroit?
I enjoy the variety of food and entertainment that Detroit offers. It feels very eclectic and unique compared to what I am accustomed to.
What has been your most meaningful area of growth as a graduate student?
My most meaningful area of growth is my development as a researcher. My childhood dream was to become a scientist, but I did not have anyone to lead or push me in the right direction. The opportunities I have now to train at a world-renowned research university is a dream come true.
What is your current field of study? What’s been your most interesting insight, significant accomplishment or research breakthrough?
I am working toward my doctorate in clinical psychology, with a minor in statistics and neuropsychology. I am currently interested in providing equitable access to graduate education. My thesis examines situations and obstacles that underrepresented students face during the dissertation writing phase, with the ultimate goal of developing workshops or interventions that can help them overcome said obstacles.
What motivated you to pursue this field of study?
I grew up in a household that taught me the value of [assisting] others, and as a result I sort of naturally gravitated to the helping professions as I got older. Fortunately, Psych 101 was a requirement my freshman year and I was instantly mesmerized with the material.
How do you envision your career after your degree?
I would love to work in a university-affiliated hospital in which I’d be able to conduct research, supervise and train novice clinicians, and continue to aid patients with their medical needs.
How have the awards supported your scholarship at WSU and experience as a graduate student?
The Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) is a program funded by the National Science Foundation, and its goal is to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in faculty positions. I attended their national conference in March. It was amazing to see these researchers dedicate their careers to improving diversity in academia. It helped me realize that the professoriate is a viable career choice if I decide to pursue it.
The National Association of Graduate Enrollment Management (NAGAP) is a professional organization that seeks to promote excellence in graduate admissions and enrollment. I won [the award] for my thesis project Development of a Situational Judgment Inventory for Doctoral Student Transitions. The award…validated [me] and my work. The inventory will hopefully inform faculty and staff on what kinds of interventions or workshops students need in order to overcome whatever obstacles they face. For example, a frequent theme that arose in the first phase of the project was students’ experience of microaggressions and the confusion of how to effectively address them.
What advice would you have for current or future PhD students at Wayne State?
Put in the work and success will come. There will always be set backs; take those opportunities and learn from them. A directive I try and live by is “never stop growing.” There is always room to improve myself or my work. The moment I cease to put forth the effort is the moment I have truly failed.
Interview by Christine Nyawaga