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“You’re Here for a Reason.” Jesse Miller ’23 ’24 (Psychology) Overcomes Imposter Syndrome to Pursue Passion

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Congratulations to the University of Indianapolis Class of 2024! We asked our newest alumni to share their UIndy experience and their post-graduation plans. Meet Jesse Miller, who recently received her Master of Science in Psychology!

Why did you pursue psychology?

Growing up around people from a variety of backgrounds, seeing the impact of childhood trauma, and observing how one person reacts with violence in a situation where someone else reacts with laughter only reveals a glimpse into where my interest stems from. The mind has always fascinated me for as long as I can remember.

Why did you choose to study at UIndy?

UIndy’s psychology program was the most appealing among all of the colleges I was looking at during high school. Given the experiences and opportunities that UIndy had provided for me during my undergraduate program, I knew that I wanted to stay for the master’s program as well, especially with the 4+1 option. It also doesn’t hurt that UIndy is close to home and those that are most important to me. 

Are there any faculty or staff members who have significantly impacted your time at UIndy? If so, who are they and how did they influence you?

The famous Dr. Michael Poulakis has significantly impacted my time at UIndy! Not only did he teach many of my classes throughout my undergraduate and graduate careers, but he’s always been a valuable mentor as I’ve grown academically, professionally, and personally. Dr. Poulakis goes above and beyond to show that he cares for his students. Whether he’s helping with something on the weekend when he certainly doesn’t have to, or whether he does multiple mock interviews with you in preparation for the same interview, his genuine support never diminishes. He has always seen potential in me, which has been especially important when I’ve failed to see it myself. My experiences at UIndy wouldn’t be what they are without Dr. Poulakis.

Have you received any honors or awards (from UIndy or from outside organizations)? If so, please tell us about them!

When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in 2023, I was awarded the Kate Ratliff Award. This award is presented to an undergraduate psychology major who has shown both academic excellence and the service-focused mission of the university. While humbly receiving this honorable award, I was also recognized for being in the 4+1 program, being the only student in my class to enter the Master’s in Psychology program early (I started the 1st year of my master’s program during my senior year of my undergraduate program). Further, I received Dean’s List recognition every semester that I was eligible (before starting the 4+1 program), and earned the four-year Richard Lugar Scholarship.

During your time at UIndy, did you have the opportunity to complete an internship or earn part-/full-time employment with an organization in your field? If so, what was it and how did it help you professionally?

I was able to complete an internship at Connections, Inc., where I worked with youth in the juvenile justice system who have been affected by gun violence. It not only honed my communication and analytical skills, but I was able to see the intersection of criminal justice and psychology for the first time.

What are your plans after graduation?

As crazy as it may sound, I will be staying at UIndy for another 5 years for the Doctorate in Psychology (PsyD) program! Although I already feel the imposter syndrome creeping back up, I’m excited to face the most professional growth I’ve ever endured. In the meantime, I will continue working and preparing for this next chapter in my life. 

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at UIndy?

The first one that comes to mind is Midnight Breakfast during my freshman year of my undergraduate program. I still lived on campus as the pandemic hadn’t hit yet, and my friends and I attended the Midnight Breakfast event in Schwitzer. Eating breakfast at midnight was much needed during finals week. We were all up studying anyways, so everyone getting together during this stressful time truly made campus feel like home.

Also, attending the 2023 MPA (Midwestern Psychological Association) Conference in Chicago, IL was not only an experience for academic and professional growth, but it allowed me to truly connect with my peers and professors outside of the classroom. It was an unforgettable experience that contributed to my new appreciation for research. 

What advice would you give to incoming students?

Even when you’ve shown what you’re capable of, it’s completely normal to have imposter syndrome. I’ve never felt such strong imposter syndrome as I did when I entered the Master’s in Psychology program, being the only one still completing their bachelor’s degree. Everyone around me had already finished their undergraduate programs and many already had the clinical experience that I didn’t have. I truly felt out of place. Through lots of time, mentorship, and connection with my peers, I was finally able to say that I felt like I belonged in the program. Please learn from my experience, save your time and doubts, and remember that you are here for a reason. Above all else, please remember to take care of yourself. Work hard, but have fun. Make your time at UIndy worth it!