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Graduate Student Stories Transcripts: Jessica Stern

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Transcript to Jessica Stern's video

When I was looking at grad programs, I really didn't want a place where it was going to feel cutthroat competitive. I wanted a group of people who I could work well with and make friends for life with and I feel like I have that here.

It felt immediately like there was a good community here. I ended up making friends with Amanda on interview weekend which it's not usual to make friends on interview weekend 'cause you're like, stressed and nervous.

But she was great. She helped me feel at home and I'm still friends with her four years later.

The person I'm working with is Dr. Jude Cassidy. She's kind of a big deal in the area that I love which is attachment theory.

When I met with her, I immediately felt like this is someone who not only is an amazing scientist but actually deeply cares about her students and deeply cares about children and families.

I loved the way that her students talked about her as a mentor and that's what really drew me to the program.

I love doing my Master's thesis which was about collaboration between me and my good friend, David, who is in the program with me. We work together on this study of preschoolers.

We were studying how empathic they were. So we did things like, we would pretend to pinch our finger on a clipboard and be really in pain for about two minutes and then we'd see how kids responded. And they did all sorts of crazy stuff.

Everything from laughing and kind of making it worse to giving us a big hug and telling us that we'd feel better soon.

A lot of my good friends are in neuroscience. They do things like, they'll ask young kids to go into the big MRI scanner. So we have this awesome MRI imaging center just off campus where our neuro science students work including some undergrads who help them out.

And they'll put the kids in the scanner. They'll ask them to do really interesting tasks and then sort of show how their brains are responding to those tasks.

I sit on the graduate student diversity committee for the psych department. So every year we put on a conference showcasing researchers who are doing really cool work in diversity studies in psychology.

Pretty much anything that you're confused about or, feeling lost about, there's a student who can point you in the right direction and, if not that, a faculty member.

When I was confused about how to get to campus, I met with someone at DOTS and turns out there were about four different options.

One of them was student shuttle. Picks me up pretty much right outside my apartment door and I go ride to stamp and it's all for free.

There's a huge alumni network from University of Maryland and they're pretty generous with their times. A couple folks have done policy work and DC is an awesome area if you want to do any kind of policy work including in psychology.

Some day, I would love to create a program for adolescence that would be part of health classes that would teach them the basics of attachment theory.

Not just so that they come to know themselves better, but so that they have a sense of how they might want to parent or how they might want to be in a romantic relationship.

And, also, if there are patterns in their relationships that they're not happy with, I think it empowers them to change those patterns.