Category Archives: jenn

Advent – a season of the unexpected

Growing up in a Christian home, Advent was always something that we celebrated. Every Sunday, my church would light our Advent candles, read a passage of scripture, and go along waiting for the Savior to be born.

Since coming to Seminary, and if I’m honest, since about last Sunday, Advent has taken a bit of a different identity for me. My pastor said something off-handedly during our Celebration of Advent service at church.

“Since Advent is a time of learning to accept the unexpected…” or something along those lines.

It made me stop and think…

Accepting the unexpected is not something I ever enjoy. I don’t want to hear that devastating news that my beloved grandparent has passed away. I don’t want to find out that I won’t be offered the internship, job, scholarship, or anything else that might make me feel worthy of something, anything. I don’t want to hear that another earthquake has devastated another part of this beloved world. I don’t want to hear that the test results came back positive and the prognosis isn’t good. All of these unexpected things throw a wrench in my plans of living a good, happy, and long life filled with love and void of sorrow.

As Fall quarter comes to a close, I reflect on my ever-present tendency to get complacent in my life. Each quarter, I learn to expect that which has come before and will come again – finals, that seem to drag on for what seems like eternity; exhaustion that feels like an oppressive weight on my chest;, grades, that I somehow let determine my worth; Christmas, that brings joy and love and Jesus as a baby.

But the thing is, Jesus wasn’t expected. He was a surprise that changed the entire existence of humanity. He was light, life, love, hope, joy. May we learn a lesson from Mary and Joseph and the Shepherds and Wise Men who accepted the unexpected, and be comforted by the fact that God is with us, even in the most unexpected of moments.

I often fail to see the beauty in this season of the unexpected.

The Mystery of Neuropsychology

When I decided to go to graduate school, I promise that I was that person saying “I will NEVER be interested in Neuropsych!” I felt that learning brain anatomy was boring and unnecessary. However, I knew that I wanted to work with cancer patients in a hospital setting. For some reason, I didn’t see how the two would possibly have to be connected.

When I started my first external practicum placement, I found myself working with individuals who had experienced recent traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. It was during that year that I had my first exposure to the wonders of neuropsych assessment. I like to refer to it as my neuropsych conversion story. All of a sudden, my eyes were opened to the practicality and usefulness of assessment. A series of simple tasks can help determine what an individual is struggling with, where their strengths lie, and their overall abilities. This allows the person to understand more comprehensively why they are experiencing what they are. Often, it provides them with a sense of calm, as there is finally an answer for all of their problems. Not only that, but it also allows for changes to be made in order to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. All that from just a series of short tasks!

Of course it’s not all that easy. But this first exposure encouraged me to take the classes in order to understand the more complex foundation behind the assessments. How can a test that requires such and such a task lead to an understanding of how one processes verbal information? Why not some other task? Why, when someone has a brain injury, is it important to know the area that was affected in order to interpret the results of their assessment? Stuff like that.

All this rambling to say, I ended up LOVING what I learned in a class I never expected to. And now I hope to have Neuropsych assessment be a large part of what I do vocationally. I would never have guessed, but I’m so glad that I stumbled into it.


I’m not sure I’ve ever admitted it before, but I think Fall might be my most favorite time of the year. I love that I’m able to wear cardigans, scarves, and boots without too many people making fun of me. After all, until last week, it had consistently been in the 80′s and 90′s here in Pasadena.

I love the crisp, biting air that swallows me up when I walk outside. I love the anticipation of the holiday season and the way in which memories cannot help but flood my mind. I love that pumpkin is in nearly everything. Although I’m much more of a fan of independent coffee shops, I love that Starbucks’ holiday cups make their grand re-appearance.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite thing about an already favorite bigger thing. I’m going to go against the grain and not commit to one particular thing. If I decide on a favorite thing about my favorite season, I’ll update this post and we’ll all be shocked.

Going to the [All Seminary] Chapel

This isn’t easy for me to admit, but until this quarter, I had never attended a chapel service at Fuller. Now before you jump to conclusions and assume that I’m some heathen psychology student, let me explain…

I came to Fuller straight out of undergrad. I went to a school that required regular chapel attendance. And I must admit – I don’t think this was a bad thing. However, I do think that it left me with the taste of obligation when it comes to mid-week services. So when I started at Fuller and found out that chapel was not required, I felt like someone had Continue reading

Oasis Pasadena

When I first moved to Pasadena, I knew it would be a priority to find a church to get plugged in to. I moved in a couple months before school started, so I had a lot of down time. I grew up as a pastor’s kid, so my experience picking my own church is relatively minimal. I tried out several churches, and eventually landed at a little, unassuming church called Oasis Pasadena. I loved the church’s passion for good community and for discovering God in a personal way.

Over 3 years later, I still call this church home. I got plugged in right away and began attending a Life Group. This allowed me to get to know a smaller group of people at Oasis without being Continue reading

Clinical Psych – what makes it so special?

What’s unique about your program?
Clinical Psychology at a seminary?? How much more unique can you get? In all actuality, I think that Fuller’s Clinical Psych program is very unique. We pioneered the idea of integrating psychology and Christian faith, and were the first Clinical program to be housed in a seminary. We also get the opportunity to take Theology class with world-renown theologians (and even have the opportunity to complete an entire Master’s degree in Theology or Intercultural Studies while we do our doctorate!). In my opinion, this provides us with a very unique perspective on Psychology.

How do you see your degree fitting into your career goals?
My degree fits very nicely in my career goals. I am hoping to work with children who have cancer and their families, so having a degree in clinical psychology will really help me out. Not only am I learning how to work with people in the midst of life-changing events in a clinical way, but I am also able to learn neuropsychology and neuropsychological assessment that will help me learn how to determine someone’s level of cognitive functioning following chemotherapy, radiation, etc. This will allow me to work with cancer patients in multiple ways, which is just what I’m hoping to do!

What’s something you wish you would have known before starting your program?
I wish I would have known just how much I would actually be growing and changing while in the program. It’s really incredible to look back and see who I was when I started just 3 years ago compared with Continue reading

Screen-to-Screen learning

Being a Clinical Psychology student, there aren’t any psychology classes I can take online. There are, however, a plethora of online courses offered through the School of Theology and School of Intercultural Studies which fulfill requirements for my degree. I have taken a few non-face-to-face courses during my time at Fuller. The first was an IDL (Individualized Distance Learning) and the second was an Online class.

They were both valuable experiences, but I’ll focus on my online class, since it was more recent. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed the class. At first, I decided to take it because my schedule was really busy and I wanted the flexibility that is so nicely included with online coursework. Continue reading


Well, this week, I’m telling you about my top 5 things to do in the Southern California area. It’s so hard to choose! There are so many fun and exciting things to see and do and eat here. In no particular order (and with the caveat that this might change the second I discover something new):

1. The LA Arboretum – a great place to make yourself forget you’re in busy Southern California. There are peacocks galore, trees and plants from all over, great jogging trails, and sprawling grass. It makes for the best place to study or avoid studying. An annual pass is really cost effective, and gets you into a ton of other botanical gardens in the area.

2. The Hotel Cafe – an awesome music venue that gives you the chance to discover the next hot new artist. Let’s be honest – most of the best music comes from undiscovered artists. This is the place to get in touch with your inner musician.

3. TV Show recordings – I have had the chance to be in the audience of Conan, the Bachelorette, The Price is Right, and Whose Line is it Anyway (it’s coming back starting in July! get stoked). Continue reading

Spring has sprung!

Spring has sprung here at Fuller, so of course, we have started new classes. I just finished my first week in Psychology of Religion, which will be my last Integration elective class. I always enjoy the first day of a new class – I just love looking over the syllabus, calendar, due dates, etc. (I know that I’m a nerd…), and today was no different.

This week, as I sat in class, I realized that despite my commitment to Christianity and Psychology (and studying them at such an integrative institution), I haven’t ever taken a good, deep look at the psychology of religion before. Why do humans have religion? What makes us believe the things we believe? How has religion developed? Even though I’m not convinced all of these questions will be answered over the next 10 weeks, I’m excited to get the chance to ask and discuss them. I think it’s so awesome that I have the opportunity to look at topics like this while I simultaneously develop my clinical and research skills. I’ll let you know how the course turned out at the end!

The Practicality of it all

It shouldn’t be a surprise that I find my Clinical Psychology degree a fairly practical use of my time. Not only am I learning a lot about myself, but I’m also learning about the way in which people work, theories behind thought and action, and ways in which to help people who are struggling with a variety of mental health issues.

That being said, I am currently in the middle of my first external clinical placement (called practicum… how much more practical can you get? the root word is the same!), and it has been the most practical part of the program yet. My placement is at a rehabilitation hospital, where people come after they have had a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, etc. to do physical, occupational, speech, and recreational therapies. Continue reading