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Interview with Mekha Rajan (2008)

Rebekah (R): My name is Rebekah Jackson and I am a third year student here at GIPP. Today I’m here with Mekha, also a third year student. Why don’t we start with you telling us a little bit about yourself?

Mekha (M): Okay, my family is originally from upstate New York. Specifically, Carmel, New York, which is in Putnam County. I went to college at Hofstra in Long Island, and then I came here to Connecticut.

R: What are your personal interests outside of psychology?

M: Outside of psychology I like to read for pleasure, hang out with friends, shop, go to the movies, and eat.

R: So why did you choose to come to GIPP when you were selecting your graduate education location?

M: One of the things that really drew me to GIPP was the people that I interviewed with. At the interview they were so warm and friendly, and everybody seemed like they got along with each other, and the students seemed to love it, so it really made it seem like it was going to be a warm and supportive environment where I could go to school.

R: And right now, what do you do outside of the program? Do you work or volunteer?

M: Well, outside of the program…no. A lot of my activities are really because of the program, like being an office assistant for Dr. Wahl.

R: Have you found that you can make money while you are in school?

M: Thanks to the loans, and then being Dr. Wahl’s office assistant is my only source of income.

R: On the flip side, what are your interests within psychology?

M: Well I found a real interest in domestic violence. That’s why I did my dissertation on it.  So I would be interested in working with victims of domestic violence in the future and right now just kind of focusing on doing a lot of research for it and educating myself on it.

R: And do you have a focus on children, or adults, or both?

M: I did practicum with children, adolescents and adults. But I think I’m leaning more toward working with adults.

R: And you mentioned your dissertation had to do with domestic violence. Can you elaborate a little more on that?

M: Sure! I kind of did a lit review studying the changes that have occurred over the last 40 years with respect to the social aspect on how the law looks at domestic violence. And kind of looking at whether or not these are positive or negative changes, and the kind of impact they have had on victims.

R: So, when you came to GIPP, what were your expectations of the program?

M: I guess I was hoping for a program that would help me learn different types of conceptualizations and different theoretical orientations, with which I could work with clients, treat clients with various presentations. I guess I just really wanted to get a handle on clinical psych, and how to work with clients.

R: So have your expectations been met thus far in the program?

Mekha: Oh absolutely, I feel like I’ve learned so much from what I knew in undergrad to what I’ve come to know, either through practicum or through classes, I feel like I’ve learned a lot. And it definitely has met my expectations.

R: How was the transition from undergraduate to graduate school for you?

M: I feel like it was a pretty smooth transition, because I came from undergrad so I was already in that mode of doing schoolwork and juggling a lot of things at once. And then coming to grad school just being made to do the same things--balancing course load, practicum, pre-practicum, things like that. So I felt it was a pretty smooth transition.

R: So what have you liked best about the program so far?

M: I think the people, Rebekah. They are really all warm and supportive, and I feel like we’ve really become like, a tight-knit family.

R: What do you think the strengths of the program are?

M: The strengths would be clinical and assessment. I feel like a lot of the clinical experiences through practicum have given me a lot of skills and knowledge and things that I wasn’t previously privy to. Also with the assessments, I think that especially going on internship interviews, I feel like my assessment knowledge and experience has been a real strength compared to other graduate students.

R: What might you improve about the program?

M: Well, if I thought about that, I guess I would have to say the order of courses. I feel like it might be helpful to have more courses focused on treatment and theoretical orientations and what kind of clients earlier first year so that we’re better prepared second year for practicum.

R: And how would you describe the student-faculty relationship?

M: I think I touched on that a little bit earlier when I said the reason I came here was because everybody seemed to get along so well and it was warm and supportive of each other and I feel like that has definitely come true in the three years that I have been here.

R: And do you have a specific faculty mentor?

M: I would say that Dr. McCloskey is definitely my mentor. She’s someone I worked with when I first came into the program, I feel like she’s guided me throughout the program.  She’s kind of been my advisor and dissertation chair; she been a huge role in my success in the program.

R: And I know you also touched on the relationship between students. How is it within our class and between classes?

M: I personally believe that our class in general gets along really well. There isn’t anyone I can honestly think of who I’d feel like I don’t like that person. I feel like we all get together often, or try to, and I think overall we get along well. Between classes I feel like there’s not as much camaraderie, just because we don’t see each other as much, we don’t have classes together, our schedules are very different.  So in that respect I’m not really familiar with the 1st or 2nd years.

R: How do you think the program’s commitment to diversity is manifested, because that is one of the core parts of the program?

M: Yeah, well I have seen it manifested in the courses themselves.  All the courses touch on some type of diversity or how diversity may affect that course. Obviously the Diversity Conference that we have every year. And obviously, I think the most important class was the Diversity class we had with Dr. McCloskey, which really emphasized that issue.

R: And what has been your most rewarding experience in the program, especially because it is soon coming to an end for you?

M: My most rewarding experience has probably been defending my dissertation.

R: Okay, so defending your dissertation was your most rewarding experience. What has been the most challenging?

M: I think actually working with clients. That blew the dissertation out of the water.  I think it really was learning to sit with clients, learning how to work with them, I think that was the most challenging.

R: And where do you see yourself after graduating from GIPP?  What do you plan on doing?

M: I definitely plan on going on internship next year, then doing some sort of post-doc, applying for licensure. I actually see myself staying in the college counseling field for a couple of years before I pursue my own practice, or something like that.

R: And just to wrap up, a little bit of information about Hartford. Where do you live in the area?

M: I actually live in Wethersfield, and I love it.  It’s a great little town. It’s a cute little complex in a very safe area. I don’t feel threatened at night if I’m walking around the complex. It’s in the middle between Silas Deane Highway and the Berlin Turnpike, and there’s food, restaurants, stores, everything that you could possibly want, with just a 20 minute ride back to Hartford. It’s a really convenient, safe location.

R: Is there anything else that I have not touched on that you would like to add before we end?

M: No, you just touched on everything.

R: Okay well it has been a pleasure talking with you.

M: You too!

R: Thank you.