Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

When I tell people I’ll be going to Indiana University of Pennsylvania they either say “that’s the biggest party school in Pennsylvania!” or “So is that in Indiana or Pennsylvania?”

Turns out it’s both.

IUP is located in the town of Indiana, Pennsylvania. It’s about an hour northeast of Pittsburgh. Here are a few fun facts that I took from Wikipedia on Indiana and IUP.


- Small town of about 15,000

-Calls itself the Christmas Tree Capitol of the World

- Birthplace of actor Jimmy Stewart and of pro football player/TV announcer Jim Nance


- About 15,000 enrolled students

- Mascot is the Crimson Hawks

- Competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference – Division II

- Notable alumni include Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, Co-Founder and CEO of Youtube Chad Hurley, and George Hood Jr., the Guinness World Record holder for spinning. I join an elite group of individuals.

- It is one of the few universities that offer the Doctorate of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree, which is what I will be earning. It’s a degree that focuses on training clinical psychologists as opposed to researchers/professors.

I’m very excited about starting the PsyD program at IUP. It’s a good fit for me and I got along really well with the faculty. There’s even a fellow BYU Cougar that’s a faculty member. I wanted to go to a program that focused on clinical work but didn’t skip out on the research and IUP offers exactly that. The program also has a good reputation with employers/internships and most of the students end up with their top choice after graduation. The only downside is the location. My family is in CA, my friends in UT, and there won’t be a ton of theater opportunities for Rosa in Indiana. Luckily though, Pittsburgh is an hour away which will have a lot for her to do. We’ll also be a lot closer to her hometown of Cleveland, OH (about 3 hours) which will be great. I’ll finally get to see where she grew up and we’ll have family close by. The move and program will mean big changes and new challenges but we are excited to start our new life out in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Who would have thought?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Grad School

Preparing for and taking the GRE along with applying for graduate school was one of the worst experiences of my life. I rank it up there with going to the dentist or the DMV. In fact, I would rather get work done on my teeth at the DMV than take the GRE or apply for grad school. Alright, so maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was a big pain. The GRE is the worst test I’ve ever had to take (and I got to take it 3 times, plus one time taking the Psychology subject GRE, which wasn’t that bad.) Grad apps are a pain because each school has its own little system of doing things. It’d be much easier if there was a universal system of turning in apps. Also, you have to pay anywhere from $25-$100 per school just to apply. So it’s not just a pain in your [insert preferred location of pain] it’s an expensive pain in your [same location].

I looked at several different options for grad school. I was focusing on doctoral programs in clinical or counseling psychology and didn’t really care where the programs were. The big thing for psychology graduate programs is faculty match. The school wants students who are interested in the research and work that the faculty are interested in. My interests are in trauma- I want to work with disaster victims, PTSD patients, and other types of people suffering from traumatic experiences. My career play is to work for the Air Force as a clinical psychologist. I looked at programs where work was being done in those areas and those schools included Auburn University, University of Minnesota, BYU, University of Wyoming, Eastern Michigan University, University of South Dakota, University of North Dakota, Indiana State, Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP), Yeshiva University (Bronx, NY), Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Dominguez Hills, and Cal State LA. The Cal State schools all had masters programs that interested me and were my back-ups in case I couldn’t get accepted to a Ph.D. program. I also applied for a teacher position with Teach for America.

My initial top choice was actually South Dakota. They have a really cool program that focuses on disaster mental health. All of the faculty there work closely with the American Red Cross and were heavily involved in the mental health aspects of recovery after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and other big disasters. I thought that I had a good chance at getting accepted there. Other good chances were BYU, IUP, and North Dakota. I wasn’t really a long shot at any of the schools but they were all competitive so I didn’t know what to expect.

I got the last of my applications turned in at the end of January and the waiting game began. It was frustrating, to say the least, that the first few schools that responded were all rejections. After what seemed like forever, I was invited to interview at BYU, IUP, and with Teach for America. Interviews went really well and after each one, I thought “this is the school for me.” I thought I could succeed in any of the programs and was really looking forward to hearing back. BYU responded first, the day after the interview actually, and I was put on their wait list. I didn’t know how far down on the list I was but was excited to at least have a chance. I think I waited about 2 weeks before they sent me an email saying all spots had been filled. I also had received a rejection email from Teach for America.

The news from IUP finally came in and of course I was on the wait list. They at least told me I was #4 on the list. I liked my chances. They interviewed 60 or so candidates and I was in the top 20. The days dragged on and the April 15th deadline (that’s when programs should have their spots filled) was nearing. On April 14th, Rosa and I were headed to California for the Ragnar Relay when I got the news. I had been accepted! I had one night to think it over but I knew I would accept. The hard work had finally paid off and I am on my way to becoming Dr. Gardner. I’ll be attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Clinical PsyD program starting this fall.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Ragnar Relay SoCal

Rosa and I joined our extended family team for the Socal Ragnar Relay -- a 200-mile relay race from Huntington Beach to Coronado Island. We had been looking for some motivation to exercise and thought this would be a great idea. We started training right away….and then stopped a few weeks later. Fortunately, we still had months to prepare as it was only Fall 2010 and the race was April 2011. Christmas came and we both were fitted for the right running shoes (a suggestion given to us by every runner we ever talked to). We stocked up on some cold-weather running gear as well and started running.

About 2 weeks into my training, I started developing shin pain. My entire shin would get really tight and swollen, to the point where I couldn’t fully move my foot up and down. Logically, I went to the internet to find out what was wrong and diagnosed myself with shin splints. I took a couple of days off and did a lot of stretching/icing. I also bought some compression socks on the advice from a post on a runner’s website message board. My first time running again felt good, no pain. But a few days later I noticed the pain again. I went back to resting/icing/stretching/self diagnosing on the internet but the pain would not go away. I eventually went to a physical therapist and he told me the problem was my shoes (I had thought this might be the case but didn’t want to believe it since I had been “custom fit” for shoes). I tried a more cushioned and neutral shoe, hoping that would solve the problem. After a few runs, the shin pain was still there. Not wanting to spend money on another doctor’s visit, I went to see a trainer at BYU that Rosa had access to through her major. He had worked with runners before and runs 5 miles or so every morning. I figured he knew what he was talking about. His solution was that my strides were not long enough. He gave me some tips and after putting them into practice my shins hurt worse than ever. At this point I was getting very frustrated. The race was weeks away and I hadn’t put in much training because of injury. I went back to the internet (at the suggestion of my cousin Christy, who was experiencing similar pain) and watched a Youtube video on shin taping. I tried the taping and had a pretty good run my first time with it. I decided to try the taping with my old running shoes as well (not the ones I was fitted for, the $50 ones I bought at Famous Footwear) and had the best run of my entire training. After two pairs of running shoes, a trip to two different doctors, compression socks, a gym membership and a dozen or so Youtube videos, it seemed like I finally had a solution! Who needs doctors when you have Youtube? I got about 2.5 weeks of solid training in and headed for California for the race.

The actual race was an awesome experience. Each team of 12 separates into two 15-passenger vans and we take turns running. My cousin Jason rented our vans 3 months in advance to make sure we had them. Unfortunately, Enterprise called us the day before and said they no longer had our vans, but would give us mini vans to make up for it. So kind of them They said a “corporate account” came in and took them. We fit into the vans but were extremely cramped and had no room to stretch out as we went from room for 30 to room for 16. I would recommend NOT renting from Enterprise. Ever. I was runner 5 in van 1 along with my dad, brother, Rosa, cousin Janae and her husband Erick, and my Aunt Patti and Uncle Mark. As one person in our van was running, the rest of us would drive ahead and wait at the exchange point. We’d provide water and snacks along the way as well. While van was driving, van 2 would be “sleeping” and waiting for us to finish. While van 2 was running, van 1 would “sleep.” Hence the slogan Run, Drive, Sleep?, Repeat. Overall I ran about 13 miles split between 3 legs. It was a lot of fun and I would recommend it to anyone, especially if you can get a team of family/friends together. The distance can be intimidating but if you stick to the suggested training schedule (and not get hurt) it’s very possible. It was the first race that I had ever done but I got through. I joked a lot about “retiring” from running after it was all over but that was just out of frustration from my injuries. I’m actually starting to run again and look forward to training for another race.

Team "Hey Pal, Are You Going to Finish Those Fries?" after finishing Ragnar SoCal