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MU HDFS PhD Student Earns Several Accolades

Alaina Dooley with her award

Alaina Dooley was recently honored with the MU PIVOT award, which stands for “Professional, Invested, Vulnerable, Optimistic Trailblazer.” Alaina received the award as a student who supports other students’ fellowship efforts by offering mentorship, support, and sharing her experiences applying for a National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate fellowship, which she received in the past. Alaina has invested in students in so many ways, from one-on-one advising, to sitting on Q&A panels and leading workshops with her advisor (Dr. Rachel Thibodeau-Nielsen) over the summer.

From this experience, Alaina said “pouring into other students in this way has made me a better person and scholar and has led to some really exciting research collaborations as well. For example, I am working with another graduate student in neuropsychology to publish a scoping review article on brain development and play, and that work began through fellowship mentoring! I am so grateful to Erik Potter and everyone at the Fellowships Office for this recognition.” Find out more about the award from the Office of Global and National Fellowships here.

Alaina engaged in this support of her peers while also preparing her application for the prestigious NSF Intern program, which is a supplemental initiative for students already funded through NSF to help them gain practical experience outside of academia. Alaina was recently selected for admission in this program.

“As a scholar studying play, I hope to work in the nonprofit industry supporting children’s museums, libraries, and science centers as they develop programming for young children. In this internship, I will work at the DuPage Children’s Museum in Illinois. where I’ll engage in hands-on learning about fundraising, educational programming, exhibit design, and community outreach. I will get to facilitate playful learning activities, evaluate exhibit designs, attend museum-specific conferences, and help plan philanthropic events. Since I have only taught and conducted research at universities so far, this internship will give me invaluable experience. I am really looking forward to this first step in a lifelong career of supporting children’s learning in informal settings,” Alaina said.