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“Find fulfillment, not just a paycheck.” Michael Chambers ’23 ’28 (Psychology, PsyD) Pursues Dream of Becoming Clinical Psychologist at UIndy

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After a decade of working in a variety of roles and environments, from door-to-door sales to custodial work in manufacturing warehouses, Michael Chambers ‘23 ‘28 (Psychology, PsyD) realized that it was time to “find fulfillment, not just a paycheck.” So, he decided to return to school to pursue his new dream of becoming a clinical psychologist.

“After nearly a decade of working in various jobs, I finally came to the realization that the aspect I enjoyed most in each role was the human interaction,” said Michael. “The things I was most excited about were always the situations where I could engage my passions by helping others.”

Michael’s journey to find fulfillment in his career began at Ivy Tech Community College, where he earned a place in the Honors program. As part of the Honors track at Ivy Tech, students were motivated to explore four-year colleges and universities through assignments that included contacting admissions counselors, drafting their curriculum vitaes (CVs), and taking campus tours. During this process, Michael discovered UIndy and its nationally-ranked clinical psychology doctorate program, and he decided to take a closer look.

“This was the only place I scheduled a campus visit,” said Michael. “It was through that process that I met Ben Houston and sat down with him for the first time. Ben was very good about answering all my questions, and he just really made me feel welcome.”

Michael immersed himself in UIndy. During his undergraduate studies, Michael served as Vice President of the Honors Student Association within the Ron and Laura Strain Honors College. For his participation and performance  in the Strain Honors College, Michael was selected as the 2023 National Honors Student of the Year at the National Collegiate Honors Council’s Annual Conference in Chicago.

Dr. Katie Boucher, Michael Chambers, Dr. Jim Williams
(left to right) Dr. Katie Boucher, Michael Chambers, and Dr. Jim Williams at the 2023 National Collegiate Honors Council Annual Conference in Chicago

Additionally, Michael was a founding member of the UIndy Dungeons and Dragons Club, and regularly served as a student panelist for incoming and transfer student events with the Office of Admissions. His undergraduate studies culminated in the opportunity to address his fellow graduates from the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences at the May 2023 Commencement ceremony. 

“No matter what life throws at you, no matter how many times you have to go back to the drawing board, it starts right here with this tremendous accomplishment,” Michael told his fellow graduates. “Regardless of what your impostor syndrome tells you, you have permanently secured your footing on a rung on the ladder of life below which you cannot drop. There is no going back, and that is a wonderful feeling.”

During his senior year of his undergraduate studies, Michael began the application process for UIndy’s psychology doctorate (PsyD) program. Brittany Dyer, career coach in the Stephen F. Fry Professional Edge Center, helped Michael with preparing his CV, completing graduate school applications, and practicing for entrance interviews. Additionally, Michael was supported by his faculty, Dr. Katie Boucher and Dr. Michael Poulakis, throughout the application process. “While I put in a lot of hard work to achieve my goals, I do owe part of my success to the amazing support of both Dr. Boucher and Dr. Poulakis. They were my most ardent supporters throughout the process and I consider myself lucky to have stood on the shoulders of giants like them!”

“That was really helpful to me because I wanted to get as many perspectives and as many resources behind me so that I could make the best impression and put my best foot forward,” said Michael. 

His hard work paid off as he was accepted to the UIndy PsyD program and was selected as the recipient of the Excellence in Academic Performance Fellowship. Halfway through his first semester, Michael is now preparing for his dissertation match, where he will be paired with a PsyD faculty member who will assist him throughout the dissertation process. 

Graduate school is not a walk in the park for most people, and here Michael is no exception. Thankfully, he is surrounded by a strong support system at home and on campus, and has found a new sense of purpose in his two young sons.

“My kids go down the street here to the daycare center,” said Michael. “So it’s cool in the morning because we get the boys ready and all of us go to school together. We say, ‘Hey, we gotta go to Papa’s school and we gotta go to your school,’ and then when we drive home we say bye to Papa’s school. So it’s instilling in them this idea of higher education, and it’s not this obscure thing.

“It gives me a greater sense of purpose,” continued Michael. “The goals I wanted to accomplish when I started this process, for work-life balance, for having financial security and stability in the future, those now are goals I can pass on to my children.” 

To those who are considering transferring to pursue their passions, Michael offers the following advice: 

“If you’ve worked hard, if you’ve put in the time and the effort, then there is no university that’s above your potential. I’m fortunate that I knew what I wanted and I know there are a lot of people out there who aren’t in that same boat. Speaking from hindsight, I definitely questioned myself through the transfer process and through undergrad.You don’t have to question your abilities. It’s okay to be comfortable in your own skin. It’s okay to be confident that you’ve put in the work.

“So my broad advice for if you’re considering transferring is do it. Don’t wait– or do wait, I took a 10 year ‘gap year’. The worst that could happen is maybe you don’t get into what you thought was your ideal school, but you’ll still get into another, and that’s probably going to be the right place anyways, because you’ll make it better. You’ll make the connections, you’ll make the friends. You’ll meet with faculty and get involved on campus. You’ll build that community around you. And then, next thing you know, you’ll be in graduate school or you’ll be off working your dream job. Find fulfillment and not just a paycheck.”

Photo credit: Joseph Donlin