Points of Pride

Alumna Recounts Earning PhD at Fielding while Raising Small Children

Posted on Wed, May 07, 2014

ErickJacob13SummerSessionGraduate Education + Motherhood = Possible!

By Kari Newbill Lannon, PhD (PSY ’13)

Special thanks to guest blogger, Kari L. Lannon, PhD, who shared her personal experience of earning her PhD while starting a family. This article celebrates all Fielding students who combine motherhood and scholarship. We applaud and honor you! Happy Mother’s Day!

Fielding Graduate University is an amazing place! I chose Fielding for two primary reasons: the high quality APA-accredited program in clinical psychology and the flexibility offered by the distributed learning model.

My husband’s industry was on a three- to four-year cycle of geographic moves, and I wanted to start a graduate program that I could finish if I was unable to stay in the same city. Little did I know, that my journey of becoming a psychologist and mother were about to begin! Three weeks after starting at Fielding, I discovered I was pregnant and the adventure intensified. Because of the incredible support of Fielding faculty and students, family, and friends, I successfully completed my first year while in the midst of severe morning sickness, months of working on my laptop in bed while on bed rest, and a breastfeeding baby who attended clusters and sessions. I cannot imagine being able to accomplish this at any other school.

EC4The flexibility and support of the Fielding community continued as subsequent years brought a second baby. My children have always been welcomed and included into Fielding events. I arranged my practicum schedules to spend the first year of each baby’s life primarily with them, keeping my family a priority even as I continued to successfully progress in school. I joined the Fielding LONGSCAN research team while seven months pregnant and on bed rest. Throughout my dissertation process, the team and my committee provided helpful feedback and understanding about the difficulties inherent in parenting two active boys while generating doctoral level research.

Going through the APA match process was complicated because I was trying to balance family and educational goals. My mother and children traveled to interviews with me as I was still nursing my second baby. I was incredibly blessed to match at an APA-accredited site, Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago, part of the Chicago Area Christian Training Consortium that provided outstanding and diverse clinical experiences and training opportunities. My family and I relocated from Dallas to Chicago, where I worked in an environment that was congruent with my values of social justice, faith, and family.

Summer2011BoysSchoolSessionI cannot adequately describe my sense of thankfulness, accomplishment, and excitement when my Final Oral Review was scheduled for Summer Session 2013, and I registered to walk in graduation. I made plans for my husband, parents, in-laws, and children to attend as they have all been integral parts of my education along with Fielding faculty and students, practicum and internship supervisors, and colleagues. My education at Fielding will always be measured by the age of my oldest son, Erick, and my dissertation research by my younger boy, Jacob.

As I stated in my dissertation acknowledgements: It takes a village to earn a PhD as a mother!

Tags: APA, gender empowerment, psychology, women's issues, adult learning, clinical psychology, graduate education

Making My Mark on an Emerging Field

Posted on Wed, Apr 15, 2009
Jon Cabiria 024

By Jon Cabiria, PhD (Media Psychology ’08)

My professional life encompasses four domains: consulting, research, public speaking, and teaching. My focus is on identity redevelopment using various mediated environments. I utilize online social networks to help individuals and corporations reinvent themselves. My research is considered groundbreaking because it shows how positive virtual experiences can transfer to the real world. Thanks to my experience at Fielding, I also speak internationally and have taught at UCLA, Baker College, Walden University, and Pennsylvania Institute of Technology.

While at Fielding, I focused my doctoral research on the online world of Second Life. This virtual world is an online meeting place where members create representations of their idealized selves and socialize, conduct business, engage in research, and hold classes, all in real time. One of my studies focused on marginalized people as they found communities of similar others in virtual environments. The resulting positive effects carried over into their real lives, suggesting that the virtual world can be useful in redevelopmental processes.    


I decided to pursue a doctoral degree because I had come to realize that the more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I was accepted into three programs but chose Fielding because it was flexible, had a great reputation, was accredited by the American Psychological Association, and the media psychology program allowed me to make my mark on an emerging field. Fielding provided the space and support for exploration and discovery.


Fielding was one giant “aha” experience spread out over time. Learning should be a transformative process. I can say, unequivocally, that I was transformed. I came to Fielding seeking to fill gaps in knowledge, and came out with more knowledge, more skills, and more opportunities than I ever imagined before entering the program. Since graduating, the opportunities to achieve my goals have only increased, and the timeline to achieve them has been remarkably shorter. I now face the enviable dilemma of how to choose from so many excellent opportunities.


Tags: Media psychology, Second Life, APA Division 48, APA, Transformational learning