Graduate Student, School Psychology
Shortly after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University
of North Florida, De’Vohn Roman began an internship experience that would later shift
his career goals. His motivation to work with children in a school setting led him
to apply to USF’s School Psychology Program, and his studies at USF have enabled him to take on meaningful opportunities within
Responses have been edited for clarity, length, and style.
What inspired you to pursue a career in school psychology?
Before I even knew that the (school psychology) field even existed, I had no intention of working with children. I really wanted to go into neuropsychology or clinical psychology, but it wasn’t really until I started interning at an applied behavioral analysis clinic after graduating with my bachelor’s degree that I started working with children. I really learned to love working with kids, especially kids with developmental disabilities like autism. It’s rewarding when you see certain progress that they make and the reaction of their families to do that progress. It was also my mentor at that job that inspired me to apply to graduate school in a school psychology program.
Why did you choose USF for your doctoral studies?
(Prior to enrolling at USF), I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. I interviewed with four to five schools to pursue school psychology, but I liked USF’s program because they emphasized social justice and being an advocate, and their training philosophy really resonated with me. (There was an) emphasis on how we, as school psychologists, don’t just do assessments and testing. We also work within the system and try to change the system.
What experiences have you had as part of your doctoral studies that have prepared
you for your work in school psychology?
I liked USF’s program because they emphasized social justice and being an advocate,
and their training philosophy really resonated with me. (There was an) emphasis on
how we, as school psychologists, don’t just do assessments and testing. We also work
within the system and try to change the system.
I liked USF’s program because they emphasized social justice and being an advocate, and their training philosophy really resonated with me. (There was an) emphasis on how we, as school psychologists, don’t just do assessments and testing. We also work within the system and try to change the system.
Even though this is my first year and my first semester at USF, I’ve been exposed
to so many new experiences that are preparing me. I go to an elementary school once
a week, where I get to work with a diverse student body, observe and even apply some
of the concepts I’ve learned in class.
I’m at a Title 1 school, and just seeing the conditions of that school and hearing some of the experiences that some of the kids go through has really opened my eyes. There’s just so many things going on at low-income schools, for example some of the kids are homeless, some are living in motels and others are adopted. I don’t have that kind of background, so going in there and seeing that has changed my perspective.
USF’s School Psychology Program is really set up to provide students with the opportunities and exposure to experiences that in the future will benefit me and my cohort, and for that I’m very grateful.
What are your research interests? In what way has USF provided you the opportunity to explore these interests?
I’m primarily interested in behavioral interventions. The program provides a lot in terms of practicum experiences and in terms of faculty being very supportive and making us aware of different opportunities out in the field such as the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) conference I’ll be attending in February. I’m also part of a research lab that deals with behavioral interventions, so experiences like these are shaping me to become a better school psychologist.
Mental health services in schools have been increasingly prioritized over the years. Why do you feel providing quality psychological services for youth and their families is critical in today’s educational landscape?
2020 was especially rough for a lot of families and children! COVID-19 has really
put a spotlight on mental health issues.
I think as school psychologists and as advocates for children and their wellbeing, we should continue to advocate for having adequate mental health services in schools, because mental health is so intrinsically tied to academic, social, and emotional outcomes. We also need more school psychologists in schools to have this facilitated.
What makes you passionate about your work in school psychology?
One of the things we say in the program is that we get to work with the best population, which is kids, and in the best setting, which is schools. We have access to those kids and those schools, but one of the things I really love about the program and being a school psychologist, is the diverse role I will play in the future. There’s never a dull day at practicum. One day we’re either doing assessments or we’re doing progress monitoring or providing mental health services. There’s so many things going on, and being able to work on multiple projects throughout the day really fits my lifestyle. I just enjoy having an impact on students and their families!
In what ways do you feel school psychologists can advocate on behalf of students and families they work with?
I think the main role of a school psychologist is to advocate. I think that we’re the safety net in schools when it comes to social, emotional, and behavioral domains. Children are put into the school system, which they don’t create themselves. It’s run by adults. So, it’s up to those adults to make sure those systems are serving the needs of children and their families.
What advice do you have for those who are interested in pursuing a career in school psychology?
I would say it’s worth it! I would encourage anyone with a passion for working with
children and working with adults who have a role in that child’s life to go for it.
We need school psychologists more than ever because there is a shortage. But, as far
as advice, it is a very dynamic field.
I would also say that it helps to have a great cohort (of peers) like I have. I’m glad that I’m at a point of time in the program where I can hang out with my cohort, build relationships with them, and collaborate. It’s important to have support. You should also take care of yourself, so self-care!
What do you hope to accomplish after finishing your studies at USF?
I could see myself being in a school setting. Before, I wanted to go into private practice because that’s what I was first exposed to. But, after practicum, working in the schools, having direct access to the kids and being able to collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators, I saw the benefits of being in a school environment. I want to help teachers and administrators structure learning environments to help children succeed.
USF's School Psychology Program prepares graduates to play integral roles in creating and sustaining educational and related systems in which children, youth, and their families have access to the academic, behavioral, social-emotional, and physical health services that promote lifelong success and well-being. We invite you to learn more about our programs.