Jacklynn Ray: “How I Make It Work”

From students fresh out of undergrad to professionals who are retraining for a new career, the Michigan School of Psychology welcomes students wherever they are in life. “How I Make It Work”  highlights the diversity of student experiences as they balance classes, work, and life.

Name: Jacklynn Ray

Program: Part time MA

Describe the (joys and) challenges in your life that make graduate school difficult to manage, especially now during the stress and upheaval of the COVID-19 and racism pandemics.

I have been working in the medical field, as a receptionist at a doctor’s office, for over a year now. When COVID-19 came about, we had to stay open and make sure our clients knew where to go get tested and the other resources that were given to us at the time.

While it was stressful to work and finish up classes during that time, it was nice to be able to communicate with family and friends via Duo and any other video calling apps we could think of at the time. It was also helpful that even though class was virtual, we could all still see and chat with one another even though it was a different medium.

How do you make it work?

By trying to stay in a state of mindfulness. I try to start my morning by writing down, or saying out loud, three things that I am grateful for. This helps get my mind to start off on the right track, especially on days that I know will be more busy than usual. In the evenings, I try to journal about my day to end the day on a good note. 

What are some tips or secrets you have for staying organized with a busy schedule?

I have developed a love for planners. Whether I jot it down or put it in my phone, or both, I always make sure I have my appointments, due dates, everything I need put down and reminders set so I don’t forget,

How do you make time for yourself?

I try to organize at least one day on the weekend for myself. Even if it is only for half a day, I’ll block it out where I can do whatever I want to without feeling guilty about the millions of things I have hanging over my head.

How do you avoid feeling overwhelmed?

Meditation has come in handy. Starting a routine of finding time, even if it’s only 10 minutes, to focus on deep breathing and returning to a state of peace definitely brings my anxiety level down and clears my head so I can focus on what I need to get done.

What support have you received from MSP?

Everyone at MSP has always been kind and willing to help when things have been very hard. Most especially though, the professors have been wonderful. Before and after COVID, they always check in and make sure we are taking care of ourselves before anything else. If we are struggling they are willing to accommodate so we do not burn ourselves out and it is one of the many reasons I appreciate this school and all that they do.

What advice would you give a prospective student who is worried about making grad school work?

First and foremost, remember you are not a machine. You cannot take it all on your shoulders. Reach out to your professors if you feel overwhelmed, they are a lot more understanding and receptive when you do.

Keep people in your cohort close, they know exactly what you are going through and make the best support system when you need it most. Lastly, do not forget to make time for yourself. I know when the deadlines pile up it is hard to forget, but when you are feeling burnout you will not be doing yourself any favors. Even if its only for a couple hours, take a break and decompress!

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