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Graduate College Blog

MSU Graduate Student Receives Excellence in Teaching Award!

MAGS is the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools. Each year they award two students an Excellence in Teaching Award. The Graduate College at MSU is proud to announce that this year one of those awards went to graduate student Taylor Smith!

Taylor Smith is a second-year graduate student in the Experimental Psychology program. Through her teaching assistantship, research experience, and practicum opportunities she has found her passion in teaching with a focus on diversity within and outside the classroom.  As an instructor and graduate assistant for the Introductory Psychology courses, she spends the majority of her time helping students succeed in the realm of academia.  Keen to pursue valuable opportunities, Taylor is also the acting graduate representative for Southwestern Teachers of Psychology (SWToP) and a level 1 partner for a Living Learning Community on campus.  Additionally, she coordinates with local middle schools to host and facilitate a workshop for students which encourages critical thinking about various topics in diversity while incorporating fun activities. Taylor has also spent several years assisting with the development of an online course format for a discussion based, capstone Diversity class. (Retrieved from MAGS.)

Ultimately, she desires to pursue a Doctorate within the field of Social Psychology. Taylor has made her Missouri Statement, what will yours be? – by Alise Kottman (Graduate College GA & I/O Psychology student.)

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Recap of the MSU Career Expo: A Graduate Student’s Perspective

I had a great experience at the Career Expo; I think I can help you have one too in the future!

The Career Expo is an excellent opportunity to network and take the next step from education to the professional world. To start there were numerous employers and graduate schools at the event. From healthcare to finance to medical schools; this truly was a diverse grouping of employers/ educators.

What did I take away from the event? These employers want Missouri State University students. As I walked up and down the aisles, I was frequently pulled aside by companies asking what I was looking for and what I wanted to do with my life. Often my major was not what they were looking for, but they would not leave me empty handed. Some of the employers referred me to other tables that were looking for people with my particular skill set, and some even connected me with colleagues of theirs that were not in attendance at the expo.

My advice to anyone attending the fairs in the future:

  1. Dress professionally. First impressions are crucial to the process of gaining an interview. Before the employer sees your resume, they are looking at you first. You will also be surprised at the amount of confidence you can muster when you are dressed for success.
  2. Be polite to everyone. The goal of the expo is for students to find careers, but it’s a two way street. These employers are looking for driven college educated individuals, which just so happens to be you! Some employers may start a dialogue with you. If you are not interested in the company the employer is representing do not just walk away, be polite and discuss with them what they are looking for. It can be difficult to walk across a burned bridge.
  3. Do your research beforehand. To save time from aimlessly wandering, it is best to research the firms you are interested in working with before the expo. This will not only give you an itinerary of firms to talk with, but will also give you talking points when speaking with the representative. These recruiters are meeting students all day! Displaying that you have pre-existing knowledge of the industry and the company are an excellent way to stand out.
  4. Read revise repeat. After you have left the fair, the longest impression these recruiters will have is your résumé. If your résumé has errors, you can kiss the interview and dream job good-bye. Luckily, MSU’s Career Center has multiple résumé madness events which can help you craft the perfect résumé.
  5. Be yourself. This may be my most important piece of advice yet. A bit of nervous energy is good, but take deep breaths and be yourself. This is exciting! You have worked four or more years to achieve the credentials these recruiters are looking for. Relax, be confident, and be yourself. You are a Missouri State University student and that is exactly what these employers are looking for! – Garrett Nevels, MBA graduate student
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Want students to do better in school? Don’t focus on grades

Studying in PSU

“Talk to your neighbor.” It’s a common phrase in Taylor Smith’s classes at Missouri State University.

As a graduate teaching assistant, Smith collaborates with multiple classes in the department of psychology. If you sit in on one of them, you won’t see the traditional lecture style of teaching you might expect. Instead, Smith’s classes are full of chatter and activity.

“I believe students should focus more on content than what they need to do to receive an A,” said Smith. “I want students to interact with the material.”

Taylor SmithMeaningful discussions

As a student, Smith noticed some of her peers struggled to absorb course content because it was not engaging enough. To combat this challenge, Smith works to build a safe and inviting atmosphere for class discussion and interaction.

“Small group activities give quieter students a chance to voice their own thoughts and insight,” said Smith. “Additionally, they allow students to work out their thoughts before they share them with the whole class.”

Smith’s style has paid off for both her students and herself. This year, she received the Distinguished Teaching Assistant Award from Missouri State’s Graduate College and the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools.

“My approach pushes students to interact with their peers in a meaningful way by using examples from their own life,” said Smith. “Awarding participation credit to students when they contribute, instead of focusing on right or wrong responses, encourages deeper learning and understanding.”

For more information, contact Smith.

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Why I love my cohort!

Deciding to go to grad school can be a tough choice. Deciding to go to grad school far from home can be an even harder choice. One thing that made my decision to move from northern Illinois to MSU easier was my cohort! A cohort is a group of students who all begin school and are expected to graduate at the same time. One of the reasons I selected to go to MSU was because my program uses the cohort model.

I was born and lived in the same town for the first 26 years of my life. Moving to a completely different place by myself was scary. Knowing that I would be part of a cohort when I arrived really helped to ease my anxiety. I knew that at the least I would have 13 classmates who were in the same position as me.

Having a cohort can also be a great place for social support. Since all my classmates have the exact same school schedules as me, they always understand exactly what I’m going through because they are going through it too. There are no better people to complain about assignments, laugh at each other’s quirks, or have a movie night de-stressing session with.

Another great aspect of being in a cohort is having study buddies. Everyone has their own study style but what works for me is being quizzed. In every cohort there is bound to be someone who has the same study style as you. One of my classmates studies best from quizzing people and I study best from being quizzed. We are a match made in heaven and now we always have someone to study with.

Another thing I love about my cohort is that there is always someone who I can go to when I don’t understand something. Out of 14 people there is usually at least one person who will understand something the teacher said that I don’t. This is especially useful when I am doing an assignment last minute and it’s too late to email the professor.

The final, and best part about being in a cohort is that I made 13 best friends. There is nothing like going through the rigors of grad school to help a group bond. My cohort is someone who I have shared a challenging and developmental part of my life with. For that reason they will always have a special place in my heart. – Alise Dabdoub, I/O Psychology graduate student

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Looking for a caffeine infusion? Your search ends here!

Graduate school is a difficult yet extremely rewarding experience. We won’t sugar coat it (pun intended), you’re going to study. You’re going to study a lot. We can probably assume studying isn’t always something you enjoy. Sometimes we need a little extra motivation to crack open that book or write that paper.  For many, that motivation comes from the elixir of knowledge otherwise known as coffee. Springfield has an excellent coffee shop selection and we asked two of our graduate students to share their choices when they want to break a mental sweat.

Mudhouse:

A local favorite, known for their delicious coffee, specialty coffee drinks and great food. They also have a huge selection of loose leaf tea! The walls are covered in local art creating a very cool vibe. If you want to get a big table it is better to come sooner rather than later, as this is a popular venue making it a bit crowded from time to time, but it is open super late. Mudhouse also offers a loyalty card in the event you become a regular.

The Coffee Ethic:

Just down the road from Mudhouse is The Coffee Ethic. This shop has an industrial minimalist feel. They make their own syrups for flavoring drinks, however they have a limited selection. The shop is not as large as others but does have a patio for those days that it’s just too nice to be inside. Should you study late enough The Coffee Ethic also serves local beers and wines.

Kingdom Coffee:

A new venue to the coffee scene is Kingdom Coffee. This shop has a limited drink selection compared to other shops, however makes up for this with their excellent study space. There are an abundance of outlets and large tables, which are conducive to “setting up shop for the long haul.”

Bistro Market:

Also in exciting downtown Springfield is Bistro Market. Inside the market is a Starbucks. The market has plenty of seating as well as a quaint bar if you feel the need to celebrate after a vigorous study session. The market also has a small selection of snacks if you need a little brain food.

Classic Rock Coffee:

This hip venue will take you back to the good old days. The music themed venue has a wide array of coffees, smoothies, protein shakes and a food menu. The high-energy music can be good or bad depending on your personal study habits. If you live on the South side of Springfield you’re in luck because this is one of the few shops away from Downtown or Historic C-Street. The Sweet Emotion Espresso drink and War Pig breakfast sandwich come highly recommended for those who prefer to study in the AM.

European Café:

Have you ever wanted to go to Paris, but were a bit short on funds? Well European Café is your place! The French pastry shop design is unique and vibrant. There is plenty of table seating and fun puzzles to play should you need a study break. The pastries while small are exquisite and we have it on good authority the French Press is wonderful.

Potter’s House:

Often referred to as “The PoHo” by its regulars, the Potter’s House is the closest coffee shop to campus. If you prefer studying in a comfy arm-chair then this is your place! They have delicious smoothies and coffee drinks, but make sure to bring a snack because there is no food here.

Big Momma’s:

If you’re looking for a place that is off the grid then check out Big Momma’s! Located on C-Street, Big Momma’s is home to the winner of the #1 best vegetarian sandwich in the Ozarks, the Juliette. Big Momma’s also houses live music in its shabby chic atmosphere.

– Alise Dabdoub, I/O Psychology graduate student

– Garrett Nevels, MBA graduate student

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Student Spotlight: Research and affordability were key elements in Meghan’s decision to attend MSU for her Master’s program!

Eight…that is the number of graduate schools I applied to.  It is also the number of graduate schools I was accepted to.  One million; that’s about the number of times I freaked out trying to decide which school was right for me.  One is the number of schools I was actually able to choose because apparently you can’t attend more than one graduate school at a time.  Who knew?

I am from Palmyra, Missouri.  I would ask if you have ever heard of it, but I know you probably haven’t, because just about no one has.  Palmyra has a population of about 4,000, a little too small for my liking.  My mother was a single parent, and we were never wealthy.  When deciding on where to go for my undergrad, I knew I wanted to go somewhere bigger, but preferably not too far from home.  It also could not be too expensive, otherwise college would not be an option.  Truman State University wasn’t too far from home, had a pretty great reputation, and was affordable.  I decided to attend Truman, and ended up spending the next four years of my life in Kirksville, Missouri.

When I started at Truman, I thought I hated research.  Any time someone said they were going to join a research team, or conduct their own research, I thought it sounded absolutely terrible.  The thing is, though, I had no reason to not like it.  I had never done research other than writing papers or finding information already made public by someone else.  So when I learned about the McNair Program at Truman, I figured it was worth it to try my hand at conducting research.  I applied for the McNair Program my sophomore year, and was accepted.  I went on to conduct my own research and was published in the McNair Scholarly Review in April 2016.

During my time in McNair, I realized that I actually love research.  I love being able to find out new information that no one has found.  I knew that the graduate school I attended needed to offer opportunities for students to participate in research, and would love for that school to continue to support my history as a McNair scholar.

The other concern was that it also, like Truman, needed to be affordable.  Graduate school was never really part of my plan, but by the time I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, it was the only thing I knew I wanted to do.  So, I needed to find a graduate school that promoted research, provided continued support and opportunity for McNair scholars, and would be affordable.  And the school I found was Missouri State University.

Missouri State University is a strong promoter of research, which was the major attraction for me.  When I visited campus and met with Dr. David Claborn in the Master of Public Health department, his excitement for research assured me I had chosen the right school.  I am now studying public health at MSU, and am learning from some of the most enthusiastic, involved, and caring faculty I have ever had the opportunity to learn from.  I assist Dr. Claborn with his research on mosquitoes and am learning new information I never thought I would be exposed to. Missouri State provided me with everything I wanted in a graduate school – affordability, research opportunity, and work through a Graduate Assistantship.

I made the choice to move to Springfield based on the fact that I knew Missouri State was the school for me, even though I did not know more than two people here when I moved.  Sounds terrifying, right?  It was.  However, I knew MSU had the opportunity and resources I was craving that made that terrifying fact, well, less terrifying.  Springfield has an enormous amount of opportunity for students and things to do that made me excited to be here.  Finding a place where I was able to have a fresh perspective and not be terrified about not knowing anyone was extremely comforting, and I had no worries about it at all.  I found not only opportunity at Missouri State, but I also found another home, where I’m supposed to be. – Meghan Meyers

Meghan is a 1st year graduate student and Graduate Assistant in the Master’s of Public Health program.

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Resources for Grad Students: RStats Institute

whiteboard-graph  The RStats Institute, headed by Dr. Todd Daniel, is one of the many useful services available to all students at MSU. RStats stands for Research, Statistical Training, Analysis, and Technical Support. This service can help you with anything stats related from trouble shooting issues with your software to running analyses and more. They also offer help using multiple platforms including SPSS, Microsoft Excel, and R. This can be particularly useful when you are doing a thesis or any sort of project that involves statistical analyses. Not only does the RStats Institute offer one on one appointments, they also offer tutoring and a number of workshops and training classes.

I visited the RStats Institute after I completed data collection on my thesis. I had cleaned my data, ran reliabilities on all my scales and now it was time to run the main analyses for my thesis. The problem was, that I had become so confused by my complicated research design that I could not figure out how to run the necessary analyses. I met with Dr. Daniel and his graduate assistant, Emily Klug in their office at the Park Central Office Building. I was hoping that with their help I would be able to untangle my complicated research design and finally get some answers. I explained the design of my study and gave them both a brief rundown of my variables so they could help me in running analyses. After I explained it to him, Dr. Daniel pulled out a book and found the exact model I needed to use! He then helped me run all my analyses using SPSS. Dr. Daniel was extremely knowledgeable about statistics and even helped me to understand my own study better. The appointment went great, and helped me to figure out something I had spent weeks thinking about. Visiting the RStats Institute really helped to relive a lot of stress I had related to my thesis. I wish I had visited Dr. Daniel and Emily sooner! – Alise Kottman

Alise is in her final semester of the I/O Psychology graduate program.

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Student Spotlight: How a graduate program brought Shannon back home!

I was born and raised here in Springfield, MO. Both my parents went to Missouri State University, but at that time it was called Southwest Missouri State University. They meet while working at an event planning committees that help set up for concerts. Twenty-eight years and three kids later, they are still happily married.

Like I said before, me and my sisters grew up in Springfield, so of course when I was about to graduate from high school and I was looking for colleges, I could not actually stay in Springfield. I was 18 and convinced that I needed to go somewhere where no one from my high school was going. So I ended up going to the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.

After going there for 4 ½ years I finally graduated with a B.S. in Biology, and I was ready to get a cool job doing some kind of “Saving the World” conservation.  After job hunting for over a year I finally got a job at the Missouri Department of Conservation. I worked there for a year and it was great, but I was at the bottom of the totem pole. I talked with my supervisor multiple times about grad school, and I decided that I was ready to go back to get my Master’s degree.

Looking for a graduate school was a lot different from when I was 18 looking for an undergraduate college. I knew that I was going to have to find a professor that I could work close with for the next two years. I started to look at multiple schools, including Missouri State University. I also knew that I wanted to work with reptiles and amphibians, so I started looking at different people who work with these creatures.

After some research, I found that MSU has 3 professors which mainly work with these animals. So I decided to schedule an appointment to meet with them and see what their research labs were like. I met with Dr. Alicia Mathis (my current advisor), and I loved her lab! After talking to her I decided to walk around campus, and even though I had been on campus several years before, I really liked what I saw. I was sold!

I am now a 1st year graduate student in the Biology Department. I have only just started my MSU experience, but so far it has been great! I have met so many different people and I really love being here. Even though MSU is bigger than my old school it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I can’t wait to see what my next 2 years bring! – Shannon Johnson

Shannon is a McNair Scholar and a Graduate Assistant in the Biology Department.

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Library Resources for Grad Students

The Meyer Library offers what seems like endless services to students. One of those services is a research consultation. Research consultations can be done either in person or virtually for students who are enrolled in online programs or who are unable to make it onto campus. This service is a great help to anyone looking to gain some direction on a paper or thesis as well as to maximize their usage of the databases. I met with research expert Tracy Stout to get some guidance on my thesis.

Tracy started by taking me to the Library website home page and showing me some of the features it has. Students can search the databases by subject by using the “subject guides” feature. This will limit your search to only psychology journals for example. An alternative to using the library databases is using Google Scholar. Google Scholar knows that you are on campus and have access to the collection of MSU’s databases. Because of this, it will search all of those as well as its regular google database. Google scholar might be useful for someone doing a more general search because it is slightly more user-friendly. The databases may be a better option for someone looking for a specific topic because search results can be narrowed by a number of qualifiers. Google scholar is also more forgiving when using keywords that are misspelled or similar to other keywords. On the databases you can use the “thesaurus” option to help you find better keywords to search for. For example, someone looking to research “road rage” can use the thesaurus option and it will tell them to instead search “aggressive driving behavior.” The databases also allow you to create a list of articles by selecting the folder option in the top right of the page. These articles can be saved or emailed to you. Additionally you can save a search query and set up alerts for it. This means that any time a new article is added that would be found under your search query you will get an alert to go look at it.

Another great feature the library offers is unlimited inter-library loans for graduate students. If you are searching for an article and you come across one that you do not have access to, you can use the inter-library loan feature to order a copy free of charge. This will help to ensure that you have a more complete literature review.

Finally, if you ever have a quick question you can use the “ask a librarian” feature on the library home page. This feature allows you to email, text, or chat with a librarian. This is very helpful for last-minute or quick questions that you don’t want to have to go to the library to get answered. The research consultation was a great experience that helped me learn a lot about how to maximize my search engine use. I now feel ready to tackle my thesis! – Alise Kottman

Alise is a graduate student in the I/O Psychology program and a Graduate Assistant for the Graduate College.

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Student Spotlight: Why Rachel chose MSU for her graduate education!

Hi! My name is Rachel Padget, and I am a Master’s of Science in biology student here at Missouri State University! I graduated in spring 2015 with my B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Central Missouri. I have 10 reasons why MSU would make an excellent choice for your graduate school education!

1. The research projects available within the biology department. To be accepted for a doctoral program, you must have research experience. At my smaller university, there wasn’t much opportunity for undergraduate research so I knew I had to go elsewhere. MSU has some amazing projects, where as a MS student, you can help lead experiments, which doesn’t typically happen if you attend where there are also PhD students.

2. The location is amazing. Springfield is such an interesting city. I’ve always been a small town person, so Springfield is the largest place I have lived in so far. In addition to that new experience, the Ozark area is rich in history and is beautiful. Sometimes, it is nice to take a drive to the lake to relax and study.

3. The rec center is amazing here! The pool is gigantic and even has a zip line. The weight area is always very clean and has a lot of variety. There are also a lot classes, like different styles of yoga or core class. The rock and bouldering wall are amazing, too!

4. My assistantship. I won’t pretend like getting paid to go to school wasn’t a big part of my choice to go here. The McNair assistantship is awesome! I work five hours a week in graduate admissions and then the other 15 hours, I work for the biology department. That means that I get to teach classes, which has been one of the best experiences of my life. There is a saying that you really know and understand the material when you have to teach it, and I would agree with that! Plus, the stipend is nice. It is hard at large universities to find funding for a master’s degree.

5. The professors in the biology department. The department here is a nice mix of wildlife and cell/micro professors but they are all so kind and knowledgeable. I have not regretted taking a single class, and I feel comfortable talking to many of the professors. The department also has picnics and lecture series every semester.

6. There are many events and opportunities that tour to Springfield. This past October, the Magna Carta was at MSU’s library. The Broadway musical, Wicked, toured for two weeks in February. There are some amazing events that many people don’t get the chance to see because of location, but not here in Springfield.

7. The sheer number of resources available on campus. The library is quite large and has many empty rooms and computers for public use. There are also clubs and groups on campus for every interest.

8. Springfield has a big effort for conservation and recreation. Some of the lakes and rivers that run by the city. Between the Nature Center by Springfield Lake and the Watershed Center, it is completely beautiful and are excellent places for a hike or run.

9. Springfield is a cheap area to live, and when you’re a grad student on a stipend, that is always a huge plus!

10. Braum’s chocolate chip cookie dough milkshakes, enough said. – Rachel Padget

Rachel is currently a second year Biology Master’s student and will graduate in May. Her future goal is to pursue a Biomedical PhD program.

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