James Madison University

Spotlight on Caroline Krehbiel (née Mullen) 

Posted:  December 17, 2015

Caroline Krehbiel


Caroline graduated from JMU in 2007 with a BA in Psychology and a Minor in Family Studies.  She currently lives in the Rochester, NY area, although her post-grad experiences have taken her to Buffalo, NY, Lehigh Valley, PA, and Omaha, NE.  Her current position is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center, which is a two-year position that allows her to complete the post-doctoral hours needed for licensure as well as gain additional training in Family Therapy and Integrated Health Care.

What was your best experience as a psychology major at JMU?
I had several defining experiences as a psychology major at JMU during my senior year.  A capstone course entitled "Motivation in Education" taught by Dr. Kenn Barron inspired me to think about how the field of psychology could impact the world of education, and ultimately led me to pursue a degree in school psychology.  A research assistantship with Dr. Richard West helped me to see that conducting psychology research was an attainable goal and that it isn't as daunting as one might think!  Perhaps most importantly, another research assistantship with Dr. Steven Evans at the Alvin C. Baird Center gave me valuable applied research experience, and connected me with a network of graduate students and faculty who helped me to make the leap to graduate school. I still consider many of the graduate students I met there as my colleagues today!

What would you have done differently?
I would have loved to been more closely connected with the Department as an undergraduate.  There were many activities that were available to students that I didn't always take advantage of.  Similarly, I would have made a more concerted effort to develop my relationship with my academic advisor.  I specifically remember an advising meeting where he recommended I consider a PhD; at the time I was very intimidated by that thought and it wasn't until I cultivated stronger mentoring relationships with faculty during my senior year that I began to see graduate school as a real possibility.

What key experiences or courses helped you professionally?
Dr. Kenn Barron's senior seminar not only helped me to find connections between my interest in psychology and passion for education, but also challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and become a critical thinking, and active contributor to small group discussions with other students.  Working with Dr. Steven Evans exposed me to the world of applied research, specifically in the area of adolescent ADHD.  Working in Dr. Evans' lab allowed me to strengthen my critical thinking skills, gain greater comfort with digesting current research, and cultivated an appreciation for the culture and world of academia.  On a very practical level, Dr. Steven Evans' mentorship was instrumental in securing my first job after graduation in an applied research lab, which proved to be an invaluable first step in my path to graduate school.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself during your sophomore year?
That studying abroad for my junior year was certainly the best decision!  A year abroad was transformative personally (I met my now-husband there) and academically (the rigors of the program I participated in helped me to see what I was capable of).  Although I do feel I may have missed out on some opportunities to strengthen relationships with faculty and my fellow psychology majors at JMU that year, for me, it was one of the best decisions I made in my undergraduate career.  I would say to any current sophomore to look at junior year as an opportunity to find your passion in psychology -- at that point your General Education courses are mostly done, and you have more flexibility to start looking for those specialized experiences (community outreach, peer support leaders, research experiences, advocacy for vulnerable populations) that will help you to start to envision what life might look like after graduation.  If not in the department, then out on campus (I also found huge benefits from the MYMOM leadership program while at JMU).  Then, by the time you reach senior year, you'll be well positioned to jump into a capstone experience that can really propel you into your post-grad life.

Do you have any personal news or anything else that you'd like to share with us?
My husband and I are excited to welcome our first 'future Duke' in December 2015.