Graduate 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.
The 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.
I 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!