Dynamic duo in psychology deeply understands the benefits
With a student-to-faculty ratio resembling a small private college, UMKC makes mentorship a central part of the student experience. Though more than 16,000 students are enrolled, the 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio is unusually small for such a large university.
The result: UMKC has many mentorship success stories.
Meet Jennifer Lundgren, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor in the Department of Psychology; and Frances Bozsik, who is working to complete a Clinical Health Psychology PhD in 2020.
What do you admire about your mentor?
Bozsik: There are many things that I admire about Dr. Lundgren, both personally and professionally. She has accomplished so much already. During her training, she earned positions in several competitive training experiences. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Eating Disorders and the Obesity Society and is actively involved in research. She has served as the chair of the Psychology Department, and has recently taken a position as the associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. It is amazing to see her in these roles. She is very hands on and is the type of person who helps faculty, staff and students figure things out while working side-by-side with them. I really admire that.
She also takes her role as an instructor seriously. I have worked as a teaching assistant for her for two undergraduate courses, and she makes it a point to provide examples to students that bring the material to life. Dr. Lundgren balances all of these roles while also making time for her family. Her love for her family is unmistakable—she always has funny and endearing stories to share about them. Interpersonally, Dr. Lundgren is energetic, easy to approach and always has a smile on her face.
What makes faculty mentorship critical to the success of students?
Lundgren: Mentorship helps prevent frustration associated with navigating the educational system, normalizes the experience of roadblocks and promotes problem solving, and ultimately reduces the risk of academic or professional failure.
For me, having female mentors has been critical to my professional development and I am always aware of the importance of what I model about work/life balance to my students—both female and male.
I had an outstanding mentor as an undergraduate—I truly don’t think I would have been accepted to a PhD program in clinical psychology had it not been for her mentorship. As it turns out, I was accepted to the same doctoral program (University at Albany-SUNY) that she attended. We lost contact, and several years later I was attending a conference in Nashville for training directors of clinical psychology programs. I looked across the room and there was my undergraduate mentor! She couldn’t believe time had passed so quickly and I was Associate Professor and Director of Clinical Training. Our paths continued to cross professionally and we had the opportunity to publish a paper on graduate mentorship.
How has your mentor challenged you?
Bozsik: Dr. Lundgren has provided training opportunities for me that have given me the opportunity to develop different skills. For example, she helped me to work on an interdisciplinary research project early on at UMKC. I have also worked with her as a teaching assistant, and have shadowed her while she completed psychological assessments—an experience I otherwise would not have had access to at that point in my training.
Dr. Lundgren has inspired me to challenge myself to continuously grow. She is continually taking on roles that require her to learn different skillsets—she does not shy away from challenges! She also inspires me to be involved in interdisciplinary activities and the community. Dr. Lundgren is very involved on campus at UMKC and is actively involved with research in the community.
If you’re giving advice to a student on finding a mentor, what would you tell them?
Lundgren: Find someone whom you feel comfortable with—someone you can easily talk to. Some mentors are helpful because they are experts in the field and can open doors, but sometimes those types of mentors are unapproachable or too busy to invest in you and your career. The best mentors are those people whom you can feel vulnerable with—they don’t judge you for your lack of experience.
Frances has increased her confidence as a psychologist in training—she has developed many of the attitudes and skills that will make her a thoughtful and measured professional. She’s always had these characteristics, but I see her applying them professionally. I enjoy listening to her tell me about her clinical practica and observing that she has developed professional competence and confidence. In a few years when she has graduated and is licensed, I wouldn’t hesitate to refer a friend or family member to her for behavioral health treatment.