Graduate Student Spotlight

Meet one of our graduate students in HDFS at MIZZOU!

Joy Roos

Joy Roos is a first-year doctoral student. We interviewed Joy about her graduate student’s experiences at Mizzou, as well as her backgrounds. Let’s take a closer look what her life looks like.

Empathetic, relentless, and defender.

I was a psychology undergraduate where I developed a lot of empathy and the feeling of wanting to help people. At that time, the only avenue I knew was through becoming a psychologist or a therapist. Then, I worked in an indirect service in a domestic violence shelter and I became conscious of the many institutional issues. I always use this metaphor: If there’s an oil spill in a pond and you see a duck covered in oil. You’re cleaning the duck and making a difference in the duck’s life. But then you send the duck back into the oil-spilled pond and the duck is going to be covered with oil again. So, the solution you’re providing is temporary and unsustainable. There are also many other ducks in the pond that needed help. That had facilitated my transition from becoming a therapist to wanting to do a more community-based work.

I went into social work for my graduate program. We were taught to consider contexts around an individual. Try to build a system that helps everyone at once and could solve problems. I was very satisfied with my work. Then I continued to work for a couple years at an educational non-profit and worked more on a program-level.

Then, I realized that programs need good research and I wanted to be a part of the production of really good research which informed practitioners and decision makers. I would like to be multilingual; speaking the 'language of research' and the 'language of practice'. Both of the fields feed into each other but there are many gaps. A lot of practitioners do not have a lot of time to conduct robust research to guide their decision. So, researchers need to do a better job at understanding the practice side of things and understanding their needs. Do they need research to inform their practice? How? I would like to be able to learn and translate these 'languages'.

My favorite thing has really been the camaraderie. It is the fact that even though this program is new for me (and I came from a practice background), I feel there are many resources being offered. The fellow students help me out a lot and the faculty understand that this is a transition time for me to become a researcher-- and they have a lot of patience with me. So, that has been a really positive environment.

I think that it has been beneficial (in the sense) that there is a place for you to jump in immediately. If you want to take some time to kind of figure things out and find where you want to invest your time, you can certainly take that time. But if you really want to get involved and be on projects immediately, people are very receptive to that. I have had a lot of opportunities to explore different options and just get started right away, which felt kind of different. In other programs, you can really feel like you are on the sideline for a long time.

My experience has really been positive ones. There are also different contexts for our relationships. In the classroom, the relationship is definitely more about teaching and guiding. But the faculty is also training you to start to think as a teacher, as a person in charge, such as in guiding lectures and taking information and being able to come forward with a really interesting conversation around it and dive a little deeper into the content.

Outside of class, you get to work on projects together. You are a mentee, but you feel relevant because they give you the space and respect of someone who is collaborating with them. I felt a lot of respect around those relationships because they view students as partners in research.

From my experience, most of the faculty are really excited if you want to explore something. On Mizzou campus in general, there are grants available. For example, the IDE grant that I was awarded, which let me explore my own interest. But I wouldn't have been able to do that had I not have faculty support. And there’s also mentorship and support if you want to branch out and explore your interest. I also know other students who have a lot of opportunities to do what they want to do apart from what their lab is doing.

I would say to prepare yourself to get immersed in the reading and the current literature, make sure that you know the research context that you're going into, get to know the researchers who are at the top of the field, and refer to their work because they're doing really great work. Most of the time they push the field forward and so, you have something to look forward to. Also, try to make a really good relationship with the students that you work with because they are your resources. Grad school in itself can be very isolating. But, if you have people alongside you and have good communication with each other, you can kind of check-in and share your experiences so that you feel normalized and more positive.

People here go floating on the river and that’s not typical in Nebraska. We do have rivers but it’s uncommon to float on them. My friends invited me to go but I was a little hesitant. But, that's how people past their summer and I can't judge it. I ended up doing it on an air mattress and it was so much fun.