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Interview with Lorna Thomas (2005)

Because the GIPP prides itself on being responsive as to the needs and interests of our students, we are always pleased to find that many students seek to play an active role in various aspects of the program. One of our very active students was Lorna Thomas (LT). She graduated in 2006.

Lorna graduated in 1998 from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA, and came to us in 2000 from Milton, MA, having worked in clinical research at the Boston University School of Medicine. Lorna recently had a chance to discuss her experiences as a GIPP student with Chris Leveille (CL), another GIPP student who graduated in 2004.

CL: So what was it that attracted you to our PsyD program, Lorna?
LT: I was first and foremost attracted to GIPP based on the fact that it is APA accredited. Second, I liked the location in that it was close to my home town in Massachusetts, but far away enough for me to breathe freely. Thirdly, and most importantly, I admired GIPP's stated commitment to diversity. As an African American female, I felt that I would flourish best in an academic environment that valued and encouraged cultural awareness and competence.

CL: Describe your overall experience as a GIPP student.
LT: I remember during my first year at GIPP asking a third year student what I should expect for the upcoming year. He told me "it will feel like the program cuts your head open and pours a whole bunch of information in." And that's exactly what my first year felt like! During my second year, all of this learned information was put to the test when my classroom learning environment now extended into real life clinical settings. Now it was time to have my walk match my talk. My third year can be characterized as a period of reflection. I continue to reflect on those professional lessons learned from my past two years at GIPP in order to help me conceptualize the direction I may choose to go in the near future. My overall experience at GIPP can be characterized as an intensive introspective journey which not only has seasoned my professional development, but also enriched my sense of self as a whole.

CL: What about your thoughts on faculty-student relations?
LT: The faculty-student relationship at GIPP can be described as authoritative in parenting style. Although they represent roles of authority, they do not allow these predefined roles to impede the process of interpersonal growth with students. Although they are led by rules and regulations, they encourage the student body to develop a sense of professional independence and competence.

CL: What would you consider to be the biggest challenges you've faced during your time as a doctoral student?

LT: The biggest challenge I've faced during my time as a doctoral student was realizing that I am not immune from experiencing emotional pain and suffering. I entered this program thinking that it was all right for me to learn how to help others deal with their internal wounds, in spite of the fact that I had not addressed my own. I quickly realized that before I could encourage others to expose and deal with their pain, I had to be willing to deal with my own. Two years after my younger brother was killed in a car accident, I started my first year at GIPP. It was not until this first year that I began to explore my feelings regarding this loss. This internal exploration has greatly humbled my impression of the clients we are exposed to in clinical settings. I know that regardless of race, class, gender, socioeconomic status, and psychological functioning, most people have the capacity to feel, whether it be joy or pain, we all feel something.

CL: Thanks so much, Lorna. As a final question, what are some things you do for fun (i.e., when you're not being a "student")?
LT: In my spare time,whenever possible,  I enjoy working out, reading, white water rafting, and spending quality time with family and friends. I also get quite a kick out of watching my cat, Godiva, try to communicate with the birds and squirrels on my back porch.