Points of Pride

Clinical Psychology Student Benefits from Postbac Program

Posted on Tue, Aug 18, 2015

By Marianne McCarthy

David_Alaniz_IMG_7637David Alaniz was accepted into the Clinical Psychology PhD program on his second attempt, and he’s really glad he wasn’t granted admittance the first time around.

“I thought I had what it took to do doctoral work,” said Alaniz, who knew he wanted to be a clinical psychologist but didn’t fully understand everything that’s involved, such as the importance of research, statistical analysis, and critical thinking.

“I didn’t know how a course like psychopathology would be delivered and what we might learn,” he said. “I was surprised that a course in critical thinking was really about writing critically.”

A case manager for Mental Health Systems, Alaniz works with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation helping reintegrate and re-socialize parolees who were incarcerated for anything from petty theft to murder.

Before he was accepted into the program, Alaniz enrolled in Fielding’s new Postbaccalaureate Clinical Psychology Certificate program to help him sharpen his skills. His first semester included multivariate statistics, and he had doubts he could do it.

“I had Dr. Bush for statistics, and he really explained the basics in a way that resonated with me,” said Alaniz, who immediately saw how statistics could benefit his work. He took what he learned back to his boss at Mental Health Systems and showed him how they could measure behavior. Now they are using a Likert scale system with support and risk factors to predict behavior of recently incarcerated felons.

 “What I love about the faculty is how they work with students and give them opportunities,” said Alaniz, who participated in research for the program lead faculty member, Kristine M. Jacquin, PhD. “I was a lead author for a paper that was presented at a conference, and that was my first authorship. I’m also a certified research assistant now.”

All this gave Alaniz more confidence when he applied to the program the second time. Even faculty saw it.

“There was a change in David’s professional demeanor when he applied the second time,” said School of Psychology faculty member Dr. Debra Bendell. “He was realistic about his options and how difficult the program would be.  However, he was optimistic based on what he had accomplished in the postbac program.”

“When David entered the certificate program, it was clear he had the passion for helping others, intelligence, and motivation needed to become a clinical psychologist. However, he was not familiar with the scholarly side of the field,” said Dr. Jacquin. “In a relatively short time, David gained the critical thinking, scholarly writing, and research skills needed to enter a doctoral program. I’m really proud of him. He will be a great clinical psychologist.”

Alaniz is the first in his family to pursue academics higher than an associate’s degree. He’s working full-time as well as helping raise a teenager as he continues his doctoral studies.

“I know that it’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready for the journey,” he said.

Learn more about the Postbac in Clinical Psychology

Tags: adult learning, clinical psychology, fielding graduate university, education

Alumnus Completes 5-Week Stint as Fulbright Specialist

Posted on Thu, Aug 06, 2015

By Marianne McCarthy

Dr. Steven E. Wallis (HOD ’06) just returned from a five-week assignment in Halle, Germany as a Fulbright Specialist supporting experts at a research center develop better theory and policy for more effective teaching, research, and implementation.Wallis3

In true Fielding style, Wallis continued his work postdoctoral and developed a research method, Integrative Propositional Analysis (IPA), which measures the transformative capacity of theories. As an expert at analyzing policies and strategic plans and looking at ways to increase their usefulness to individuals and organizations, 

he applied to the Fulbright Foundation and was added to the Fulbright Specialist Roster in 2013. When IPA caught the eye of a research associate at the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (IAMO), Wallis got his first assignment.

IAMO (pronounced I-am-oh) develops policy recommendations in agriculture and commerce to support emerging nations in central and Eastern Europe. Wallis worked with IAMO scholars and researchers who want their theories and policies to be more effective in practical applications.

“I spent five weeks in a stimulating and intellectually challenging mix of presentations, workshops, and meetings with individual scholars,” says Wallis.

During his time in Germany, Wallis attended conferences and workshops, gave presentations on this methodology, and mentored scholars and researchers. He helped doctoral candidates sort their literature reviews to identify gaps in the theory where the candidate might focus their research. In another project, he helped researcher, Dr. Tuck Fatt Siew, create and integrate perception graphs of key stakeholders to understand complex problems of water usage in China.


A doctoral student, Nozilakhon Mukhamedova, was having a difficult time compiling all her research on land and water reform in Central Asia into a coherent picture. Using IPA to map multiple theoretical perspectives, she was able provide a map for moving forward on her dissertation.

“I learned a lot about agriculture, economics, and life in transition economies from my new colleagues,” says Wallis. “In turn, they learned about IPA and made structural improvements to their theories.”

Some of the researchers provided suggestions for improving Wallis’s methodology. Ideas that he says will open a new stream of research.


 “I am in awe, and deeply appreciative of the transformative events I experienced on this Fulbright Specialist adventure. I feel changed—more confidence in my approach yet, paradoxically, with a new understanding of how IPA may be improved,” says Wallis.

Being a Fulbright specialist is a five-year commitment, and there are a couple of institutions that have requested to work with Wallis. So there’s no telling where he will be placed in the future.

“I was honored to have been selected for this project and wish to express my deep appreciation to Fulbright, IAMO, and supportive colleagues: President Dr. Katrina Rogers at Fielding Graduate University; my Department Chairperson, Dr. Rebecca Loehrer, at Capella University; and Dr. Vladislav Valentinov at IAMO,” said Wallis.

You can read more about Wallis’ experience, at his blog.

Tags: fielding graduate university, research, Fulbright, education