Graduate Programs

Blogs from students, faculty & staff

Understanding Faculty Impact

In this enlightening conversation with Dr. Jennifer Blackwood, Director of the Physical Therapy program at the University of Michigan-Flint, students were urged to focus on the caliber of faculty when choosing a graduate program. Dr. Blackwood stressed that meaningful growth is nurtured through connections with educators who are committed to continuous learning and who wield tangible impact in their fields. The significance of building relationships and interacting with faculty beyond academic settings cannot be understated.

The Setbacks as Stepping Stones

Setbacks need not be stumbling blocks but rather stepping stones towards personal and professional enhancement. Dr. Blackwood’s own journey, replete with initial rejections and challenges, is a testament to the power of perseverance.

The Making of a Mentor

Dr. Blackwood’s story is a powerful nod to the value of mentorship. She underlined how effective educators not only disseminate knowledge but also provide guidance and support, preparing students for success beyond the classroom.

Flexibility and Holistic Support in Education

With an educational landscape that’s increasingly dynamic, the University of Michigan Flint shines with its blend of online and in-person offerings, epitomizing the need for flexible and supportive program structures.

Beyond the Campus Aesthetics

While the beauty of a campus or resources may be alluring, Dr. Blackwood advised that looking to the quality and ethos of educators will be more conducive to one’s learning. Educational accomplishments are, after all, more influenced by human interaction than by architectural marvels.

In essence, this episode emphasized the transformative power of education, the integral role of mentorship, and the importance of embracing life’s challenges. These ingredients not only enrich the graduate school experience but also shape future leaders capable of making a meaningful impact.


Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:01]:
Welcome to the Victor’s in Grad School, where we have conversations with students, alumni, and experts about what it takes to find success in graduate school.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:11]:
Welcome back to Victor’s in Grad School. I’m your host doctor Christopher Lewis, Director of graduate programs for the University of Michigan Flint. Really excited to have you back again this week. This week, as always, I am here to Support you along this journey that you’re on. And I say journey I say this I say journey because it is a journey. It is a journey that you are on as you’re preparing for graduate school. You You may be preparing for graduate school. You may be just thinking about graduate school.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:00:37]:
You might be in graduate school, or maybe you’re looking at the that light at the end of the tunnel Come in at you as you’re getting ready to be done with graduate school as well. But no matter where you’re at, there are things that you can do to find in that journey that you’re on, and that’s what this podcast is all about. This podcast is all about helping you to find success in the journey And helping you to learn from other individuals that have gone before you, that are that are here to help you to be able to Share what they learned along the way and are here to help you to find some things that may help you as well. That’s why every week I love bringing you different guests, different people that have gone before you that have gone on this journey. They come from all kinds of different backgrounds, all kinds of different majors, And they have all they all have the one thing in common, which is they went to graduate school before you, and they have figured out how to find success. So I’m really excited to be able to talk with you every week and to be able to bring these different guests to you. And this week, we got another great guest with us, Dr. Jennifer Blackwood is with us. And Dr. Blackwood is the Director of the Physical Therapy program, and a professor at the University of Michigan Flint, and She has been at the University of Michigan Flint for quite a few years.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:01:56]:
She’s been here now for for quite a while working within our PT program. And along the way, she has had a number of other experiences and has Been able to bring experiences from a number of different educational backgrounds as well. So she I am really excited to be able to have her here with us today and welcome her to the show. Dr. Blackwood, thank you so much for being here today.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:02:20]:
Yeah. Thanks, Chris, for having me. I’m excited to share any part of my journey and to encourage folks along the way.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:02:26]:
Well, I really appreciate you being here, and what I love to do at the beginning is really just to Turn the clock back in time. I know you got your 1st bachelor’s back at Bowling Green State University. And along the way, at Bowling Green, you had something went Through your head, you made a decision that you wanted to keep going. You wanted to go from there to continue your education and work toward that Physical therapy degree. What was going through your head, and why did you choose that you wanted to continue into graduate school?

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:02:54]:
Yes. Thanks, Chris. My, my Lifetime career goal was always to become a physical therapist, and I should say always after a remarkable event in my life. And it happened to be That my mom got sick, and she needed to see a physical therapist. And with much gratitude to the physical therapist back then who taught me how to be the junior Physical therapist to help her in her exercise program and really to progress her forward. So when I was at Bowling Green, I went in as a pre PT student. And like many individuals in that time, we had 500 to 600 applicants for very few spots, 20 to 30 spots in an average PT program. And the 1st time that I, went through and applied to a physical therapy school, I didn’t get in.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:03:38]:
And so I reevaluated where I was. And as a student who grew up in a blue collar household, which required me to do a lot of my own Financial support for my education and certainly for progressing me forward. I decided to fast track my way out of school to get a job Before I reentered and reapplied for a to other physical therapy programs, and in particular, The one on our campus, the University of Michigan’s physical therapy program. So so when I was at Bowling Green, I had a great undergrad experience, but I realized that The degree that I did receive from their bachelor’s of science in biology was not my final destination. And I knew that In order to continue on, I had to continue to drive towards those goals no matter what the outcome was. And my first non acceptance in the PT school absolutely It didn’t stop me, but actually allowed me to refocus, reprioritize, graduate early. So before the 4 year mark, which is Kind of unheard of in some ways, but also to go out and get a job, start making money, reapply to other programs including that one, and then Pick my choices as far as where I wanted to go.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:04:50]:
So as you said, you applied once. You didn’t get into that program. You reevaluated and decided that you were going to continue to move forward after you got some a little bit of experience, And I’m sure at that point, you had some options. You could have gone to many different programs. You could have you may have applied to many different programs. How did you decide that the University of Michigan Flint was the right school for you?

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:05:15]:
Yeah. So as you may note, And all of our listeners may note too, Bowling Green is in a state that’s south of Michigan. And I grew up in a house That did not bleed maize and blue, and I will tell you that right off the bat. But when I graduated from Bowling Green, I had a choice To either go into a physical therapy program that was at either a certificate or a bachelor’s level or to look into graduate school, to look at the time was Most physical therapy programs were at a master’s level. And I just had a point of reflection to say, I can go and pursue the same degree and achieve a bachelor’s degree or to pursue A master’s degree in physical therapy. And so that really opened my eyes to different area different physical therapy programs. And in particular, the one in Michigan really stuck out. I will tell you that as as a person that grew up not in the state, I had I never I had not spent a lot of time in The state of Michigan up until the point when my husband and and their family were from the Flint region, and we had come back up here for just a visit.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:06:16]:
But For me, it was really this idea of looking at opportunities to advance my education that would be consistent with where I wanted to go. And so even as a younger individual, I realized that, you know, my the practice of physical therapy was something I wanted to do. But I also realized that If I had a chance to do something else, like teaching or research or something like that, I knew that I’d have to get more than just a bachelor’s degree. And so when I was really kind of Considering that next step after the 1st initial rejection in applying to physical therapy schools, I realized I had to step into a direction that would feed me and support me later later on. And so that’s where I really started to look at these master’s programs. And the program at Michigan, you know, it stuck out in a number of ways. Number 1, it was one of the only ones at the time that we’re at a master’s level. And the other piece that really stuck out is just the sort of just looking at the the program as a whole and its history And its strength and its history was really something that kinda brought me to this, brought me to coming to this program and certainly applying to it.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:07:18]:
But it So, you know, was something that I never anticipated. So I I never had the mason blue, the black m as something that I always wanna pursue in my life. But for me, I know it was Definitely a moment that really supported me in the process to become a physical therapist.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:07:33]:
Now I know that as you were working As a physical therapist, you got out of graduate school, and we’ll talk about that journey, about what it was like to go through graduate school. But as we’re still talking about kind of going to and In selecting schools, you ended up also getting your PhD, and you ended up while you were working also working on that. You chose to go to Western Michigan University for that program. How did you choose that program?

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:07:59]:
Yeah. So I had already started my career as a faculty member on our faculty at the University of Michigan And the PhD from Western Michigan was or is a PhD in interdisciplinary health sciences. And, it allowed me to utilize my my area of research that I wanted to focus on and really emphasize the interdisciplinary. And and these terms that We commonly use today is interprofessional and interprofessional practice and interprofessional education. But when I was going through this program and really investigating it, It allowed me to examine the area of research that I wanted to work on. It was flexible. It allowed me the opportunity to Complete classes sort of in a asynchronous or a hybrid mode. So where some were completed online, and then yet we still met, Every week in person or sorry.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:08:49]:
One time a month in person so that we could have that gap closed and that relationship and socialization within a PhD program as a Part of this. The other piece that really came with that is the concept of being able to manage that as an individual that was working. And although I was working as a faculty member and able to Streamline and and sort of utilize my teaching and research both within my job as well as my PhD program. It allowed me to Sort of marry the 2 and then be successful on both fronts. Mind you, all at the same time where my children were young at the time. And so it was definitely a challenge, But it allowed me to put the categories of work into specific areas and then focus on those throughout the process. The fruit of our labor was great. And so within 3 years’ time, I finished my PhD.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:09:36]:
Of course, that may be something that seems different, But I was so focused to continue on in that journey that I didn’t really wanna delay the opportunity to be successful. So I actually finished mine in just about 36 months, which is really fast and can be very difficult. But but I’m just grateful for it because I didn’t wanna continue on. At that time, I wanted to take that next step. And the next step was really To sort of, decompress for a period of time, but also to start applying what I had just garnered through that education and my research to step into that next Direction and to really start making an impact on my own as a researcher.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:10:18]:
Now going back to that experience as you were going through that master’s degree in physical therapy. I know that you were successful in in going through that program. And I guess as you think back to that experience for yourself as you go from being an undergraduate and going into graduate work, especially a graduate program that is rigorous and full Time in with a lot of expectations. As you think back to that, what did you have to do as you were transitioning in To set yourself up for success, and what did you have to do to maintain that success as you went through the entire program?

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:10:54]:
Yeah. That’s a great question. To start off, one of the first things that drew me solidly to this program at the University of Michigan Flint was the faculty. Because It was really the only program that I heard from at the time that spoke about supporting students in a holistic Fashion. And this is before using terms like holistic admissions and stuff was what we had used. But the faculty spoke about Selecting the students and selecting the reasons why that they would choose the specific students that got into the program. And it wasn’t just Highest grade leader of this and varsity athlete and things like that, but rather, they really focus on other characteristics. And later on, as I I became a faculty member.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:11:36]:
I never really found out what those characteristics were because it was a different age. However, transitioning into the program, being an out of state Student, I very much knew what the cost was. I knew that my coworkers or colleagues in PT school that were in state students, they were paying one rate, and I was paying twice. So, financial, implications of my performance really drove me to learn as much as I possibly could. But The other piece of that that was so powerful was that initial experience I had with my own parents, my mom needing physical therapy. Later on, my grandma needing physical therapy. And we had a faculty member at the time, doctor Dick Darnell, former director of the program. He used to use this thing called the grandma rule.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:12:21]:
And he would tell us he would say, treat your patient like you would your grandma. You always want somebody that’s gonna take care of your family member, you know, insert whoever that might be. And so when I studied, I studied for my future patient. I studied for those individuals that don’t have anything else, Any other hope left in them when they receive challenging diagnoses. I studied for the ability to repeat things back with Confidence knowing that I am absolutely chosen to be in this profession, but also I am chosen to help other individuals. And being a physical therapist, you meet people at a very vulnerable time in their lives, and it can be really you know, it’s it’s it’s a privilege that not many get the chance To have. And in particular for us, like, when we put our hands on a person to try and help them with their mobility, with getting up on a chair, you know, that’s That’s another thing that’s very challenging for for us. And so my transition into graduate school and how I focus was Based on the fact that I always used to have this joke with my classmates, like they may be buying a brand new I don’t wanna name one of the top 3 carmakers, but we’ll just say one of those.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:13:29]:
And my cost was, like, I was buying a foreign car because it was much more than what they had had. So I did spend a lot of time almost Really trying to garner that information so that I could replicate it. Now the outcome of that was, I suppose, with better grades and you would get More confidence and things like that. But what I also realized is that those individuals around me, my classmates that supported me, was invaluable. The faculty was invaluable. And to be able to have a conversation with them and go in their office and, you know, these individuals that were Highly regarded in the profession of physical therapy in different areas. But to develop a relationship with them and be able To ask them just random questions about anything in the profession or some of the issues that we were currently experiencing in health care. And To have that as your colleague and mentor was really powerful for me as a student.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:14:24]:
And then the last piece that I remember sticking out very greatly to me was when our director at the time, doctor Paulette Czubalski, you know, she got in front of our class And she just announced and said, listen. You guys are all here because we want you to be here. The weed out process is done. It’s time for you to become future physical therapists. And I think that that was just a powerful moment. And so, you know, I was the type of student that was driven to learn, but So, really, the value of me being accepted at the University of Michigan’s physical therapy program was not disregarded. Like, I highly valued being here. I highly valued being a student, and I just enjoyed it immensely.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:15:05]:
It was like getting the opportunity to finally be able to study what you wanted to study your whole life, and that was what I did. So Just grateful to be a part of the team.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:15:15]:
Now one of the things you just talked about was that importance of building strong relationships with Your faculty members and many students that walk into a graduate program are walking in with very wide eyes, But also a little intimidation and especially intimidation when they meet those faculty members with all the credentials and the work experience And such, and many times students don’t exactly know how do I put my best foot forward to build those strong relationships. As as a professor now in the program, what do you say to those students about some of the best ways in which They can start to build those relationships from day 1.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:16:00]:
I think as a group, we’ve taken it upon ourselves, a group of faculty, Educators in physical therapy, we’ve actually tried to reverse that a little bit. In in the manner in which we do that is sort of that 1st day introduction. It’s not, You know, the students, anybody can do a Google search of an individual and find out all the accolades that they have and, you know, how how many awards and things that they’ve gotten. But When we introduce ourselves, we introduce ourselves just very briefly. And one of the greatest things about my job as a director is to promote The faculty so many times because they receive all these awards and these these, publications and presentations, but oftentimes, they don’t talk about them quite as much. I get the chance to do that. But when it comes to a student going through that process, our faculty introduce ourselves, but then, Student going through that process, our faculty introduce ourselves. But then, typically, we ask for some small bit of information, information about them That is not related to academics.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:16:50]:
So it’s not I call myself, you know, whatever it is. It’s something that might be related to performance in academics. So it’s not like, you know, I have difficulty reading long texts or something like that. That’s not the point that we want from our students. But rather what we need is need information about them. That way we can start to build that relationship. And so, for example, I just recently did this, send out some note cards to students. They an item, and now I have a little nugget of information that we build off of.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:17:16]:
And we continue to have that opportunity to, you know, share that piece of our lives together. The other thing that we’ve actually done too is we’ve built in small pieces of socialization and service at the same time. Our pro bono clinic is one of them, HEART, where you get the chance to work alongside faculty, but oftentimes, we’ll be serving in the community, whether it’s at the food bank, whether it’s, at a another service activity that’s held within the Flint or Genesee County region. So then when it comes down to faculty or students Getting to learn their faculty. I think what it boils down to, like, my greatest encouragement, and I would say this to any undergrad student, high schooler that’s gonna go into College or even a student that’s gonna go into grad school is to get the chance to know their faculty members. And so if they have office hours, come to office hours. If they have a Social event, a coffee event, something like that, then come in and come in with sort of the humanistic approach. It doesn’t necessarily have to be this every time a student goes to see a faculty member to ask a question about the information, but rather to say, you know, I’m also did you get a chance to watch a game on Friday? Oh, yeah.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:18:24]:
I did. And then you start sharing that. Well, that relationship builds into more. And then the other piece that I think is really powerful is when students get a chance to participate in their professional socialization. So if it is something that’s related to their degree And there happens to be like a, a research presentation or something like that where they get the chance to listen and participate in those activities. If they get the chance to go to a conference, whether it’s supported or not from internal resources, by all means, go to those things. Talk with the faculty and then really kind of get that mentorship that, it’s not always formative. Usually, it’s, something that usually, it’s something that happens just implicitly, and it’s not something where you have to as a student, you have to sit and receive everything the faculty member is trying to provide for them, but rather to give them the chance to build that relationship.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:19:15]:
It’s All about spending time and then sharing life experiences with them.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:19:20]:
I really appreciate you sharing that because I think that is important and Not always something that undergraduate students do in the best way or they don’t always develop those relationships. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. And so I think it’s important to understand that that is a part that is something that can definitely help them. Now you also mentioned just this a few minutes ago, The the pro bono clinic that you have here, and I know that for programs like yours, many students are going to be taking advantage of many types of clinical opportunities. And as they’re looking at programs and considering programs that have a heavy component to that practical learning That they’re trying to find information to see what specifically separates programs from one another. As you talk to prospective students For your program, how do you help them to or and what do you what would you say that they should be doing, asking As they’re looking at clinical opportunities, especially for programs that have those opportunities available, That would help them to differentiate programs from one another.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:20:24]:
Yeah. I think one of the greatest things that a person can do if they’re comparing different Graduate programs, in this case, physical therapy programs and their clinical education, is to just ask A question about the number and the variability between sites. Because oftentimes, I get questions from students. Do we have a special Affiliation. Do we have a clinical affiliation in a specific area? And sometimes it happens to be sports. Sports are is a an area of practice that some students are interested in. And we do have those, but we don’t have 60 or a 180 depending on how many students are out in the clinic at any one given time. That’s because it’s just a special area of practice.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:21:05]:
So I think if a student is looking at different physical therapy schools, I think you need to ask just about the number of sites available and what that selection process is like. Because although you may have a program that may have, let’s say, 30 different sites in sports, it may not be every year, maybe every other year, or you may have They have special credentials to be able to even participate in that. So regardless of what is what regardless of the type of Clinical education experiences a student goes through. They have a career of practice ahead of them. And sometimes, participating in various components of their clinical education. They may find that there is an area of Practice that they thought they always wanted to go into that now they no longer wanna go into. So my communication is always about a growth mindset. Like, Don’t necessarily think the only way that you were gonna be this excellent physical therapist is by doing this type of, Educational experience and this one, then this one, then this one.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:22:02]:
And then you’re gonna have the job that you’ve always wanted because I guarantee it’s gonna change, number 1, and that’s okay. But the other thing is is in order for us to be really good at 1 area and have passion about 1 area of practice, we have to be exposed to these other areas. So I think the idea of asking the faculty or the administrators of a Physical therapy program or any health related program about those types of experiences that are available in the selection process. If that meets your needs, I think that’s sufficient. The question I would ask if I was say this is one of my children that wanted to become a physical therapist or whatnot would be, How many of those clinical instructors at those facilities have credentialing from, example, the American Physical Therapy Association as Clinical instructors, which means that these physical therapists, supervisors, or preceptors go out and they receive specialized Training to take students and to educate students in that clinical environment. I think that’s very powerful. Because you could go out into 2 places. Let’s just use the example example of geriatrics, which is the area that I I generally practice in or my specialization.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:23:11]:
You could have 2 geriatric facilities and all things equal, The clinical instructor that has the American Physical Therapy Associated credentialing as a clinical instructor may be a better clinical instructor and preceptor and mentor than the other individual that doesn’t hold those. And I just think it’s it really provides us with an opportunity to say These individuals have gone out and received extra training to be clinical educators, and I think that that’s very powerful.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:23:40]:
Now as a faculty member, as a Professor is someone that has gone through graduate school and is now utilizing what you’ve learned on a daily basis To educate others. You’ve given different pieces of advice today, but as you’re thinking about individuals, whether they’re going to graduate school for physical therapy, Business or whatever it might, but they’re looking at going on to get that graduate degree to continue on toward the goals that they’ve set for themselves. What are some tips that you might wanna offer every student as they’re considering graduate education that could help them find success sooner?

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:24:15]:
You know, I think The quality of the faculty that guide you is gonna be key. And the relationships that they have, not only with their profession, but also maybe within the university or within the community. Because I don’t think anybody goes into graduate education to remain at the same point when they’ve graduated. I don’t think anybody Goes on to get a master’s degree or a doctoral degree or even a PhD will will want to be in that same sort of space in life that they were in when they started this. So that mentorship is gonna be vital. The quality of the faculty is gonna be vital. And then the 2nd piece of that are those other experiences that come along with this. So oftentimes, we talk about the explicit and the implicit curricula of a program.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:24:59]:
So our explicit curricula are these are the classes you have to take. These are the books you have to buy. This is the process that you have to go through. But sort of that Implicit information. The information about how the faculty of that various program is gonna Push you to be able to be the best version of yourself at the end is really what a person needs. I also think that As a program director, I think the equipment space and our resources that we have in our program is excellent. And I’m very proud of the information And the spaces that we have. However, I say that sometimes and I was I was prone to this as a younger person when I when I selected some schools.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:25:40]:
The sort of brick and mortar that you have within, within higher education, you know, the beautiful grounds and the things of that nature, Those are all good, but you don’t learn from buildings. You learn from your faculty. And I really think that Speaking human being to human being and other parents, other students that are thinking of going in and encouraging another person or encouraging themselves to take that step and to go into graduate schooler to go into higher education, the quality of those educators is going to be key. And I just think we have to keep our eyeballs on that. If you’re looking at a field that’s high in research or really focused in that area or should be, those faculty should also be sort of leaders in that field as well. If it’s clinical practice or health care, the same thing. If you’re looking at, you know, any programs whether in the health professions, Like, how many of those faculty are still practicing within that profession? How many of those people are serving in the community? And I think that really gives us an opportunity to recognize the priorities within those individuals and how we as future professionals in that area can benefit from them. And then the last Piece that I would just tell students is or applicants is don’t worry about don’t fret too much about the circumstances today.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:26:57]:
Because Like myself, I had to get a couple no’s before I finally got the right yes. I had to go and experience some things that were quite challenging in my life, Personal life and then my professional life. To be able to be at the point where I’m at now, all things considered, you know, none of those things that they were Taken away would have made me in the person that I am today. So all of that was very, very purposeful. And even though It was challenging at times, and, you know, if everything went my way, I would have gotten a degree from a different institution a long time ago. But I guarantee that if that was the case, I wouldn’t be in this position today. So I can say that as a person that’s been in the field for x amount of time, I know sometimes it’s not always comforting, but I think it’s one of those things where it will all work out. And we’re here to support when students are in our program, and we wanna see the best version of our students at their outcome and certainly support them in that process.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:27:51]:
But it’s one of the things that looking down the tunnel when you don’t see that light sometimes can be a little bit overwhelming for folks that are not in my current position.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:27:59]:
Now one follow-up that I’d love to get your take on. You talk about that sometimes students are making decisions based on how pretty the campus is and the Facilities and not always the teaching and the people that are there. I guess 1 question that I would ask is, are there questions? Are there things that someone can ask that would help them to ferret out the quality of instruction, the quality of instructors That may not be apparent from what they see only on a page.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:28:32]:
Yeah. I think this goes back to that idea of Sort of cultural humility as a faculty member, and you can hear it when individuals talk. So the idea of, like, a student might ask, what are you working on now to improve the program or to improve your your teaching instruction, your research, things of that nature? And I think that piece of being a continuous learner is something that does not stop when you become a professor or associate professor or any type of faculty member. And I think knowing that we’re all still on that journey, we’re all still trying to figure this out. I think that’s a piece that a student could ask. And so, like, as you go to these programs And you interview the faculty, and really, you should. You should interview and say, do I do I fit in this situation? Like, that’s sort of that mental question. But The questions to ask a faculty member would say, you know, what areas of research are you still working on? What what’s something that you haven’t solved that you wanna look at in the future if If you’re looking into research focused, programs, if you’re looking at just sort of the education that they provide, you know, what’s one comment that a student had provided in the paths that you’re really trying to change about the way that you teach or about the way that you’re instructing.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:29:43]:
And I think that’s just a really great opportunity for us to say whether or not these individuals are reflecting and changing and modifying and updating, and whether or not they’re willing to tell us that. I think that’s the other piece because Faculty do this all the time. They change their classes. They change what’s going on within the class. They they modify what they’re teaching, and they’re always constantly in revision. But to be able to demonstrate that indicates that the student could participate in that process. The last piece that I would also say is, you know, there’s great things that every institution is doing, and that’s just wonderful because they’re educating folks to go out and change the world. And I think as a Student that’s really on the border to say, do I belong here or do I belong there? To ask the question to the faculty member or the program director to say, How am I gonna make an impact in this profession, this community, whatever it is, when I’m done? And it can’t just be the answer of, well, you’re gonna pass The licensure exam first time.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:30:43]:
You’re gonna it’s sort of the the lowest threshold, if you will, to enter a profession. But more importantly, like, to really recognize What’s my impact today on this community as I develop into a professional, as I go through my graduate program, and what’s gonna be the impact later on? Because believe it or not, born and raised in Ohio, I am a part of the Michigan family. I bleed maize and blue finally after all these years, but I not really. I’ve Been bleeding majors in blue for a while. But, you know, if you think about being the leaders and best, what we do makes a difference today, But also very much significantly in the future. And so that’s always been my my focus. And if we’re not doing it today, we’ve got a goal that we’re working towards. And I would just say when students are also considering graduate programs, you’ve gotta be able to identify where you’re gonna move in the future, your what your final career goal will be, And then how you can start walking towards that today, not just when you get the diploma, but how your faculty can guide you in that process.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:31:46]:
Well, Dr. Blackwood, I just wanna say thank you. Thank you for sharing your journey today, for sharing all of these pieces of advice. I know that I have really appreciated learning more about your own journey, but also about The things that you are doing to try to differentiate not only your program, but helping students as they transition into graduate school. And I truly wish you all the best.

Dr. Jennifer Blackwood [00:32:10]:
Yeah. Thanks, Chris, and go blue.

Dr. Christopher Lewis [00:32:12]:
The University of Michigan Flint has a full array of masters and doctorate programs if you are interested in continuing your education. Whether you’re looking for in person or online learning options, the University of Michigan Flint has programs that will meet your needs. For more information on any of our graduate programs, visit To find out more. Thanks again for spending time with me as you prepare to be a victor in grad school. I look forward to speaking with you again soon As we embark together on your graduate school journey, if you have any questions or want to reach out, email me at [email protected]