Rachel Flores ’18, a first-year graduate student in the Specialist in School Psychology program, has been awarded the Audrey J. Grupe Fellowship in School Psychology.

Originally from Plainfield, Illinois, Flores grew up among many family members who worked in helping professions, including teachers, nurses, counselors, and school administrators. As a child, she admired the helpers in her life and knew she wanted to grow up to help people and make a positive impact on their lives. She would eventually find opportunities to work with children of all ages and levels of functioning through volunteering at summer camps, tutoring two young girls with intellectual disabilities, and working as a para-educator in an extended school year program. These experiences gave Flores the desire to continue to work with a diverse population of children.

“After searching and searching for the right fit, my sophomore year I took a Lifespan Development class taught by a school psychologist,” Flores said. “Listening to her experiences working with children, providing interventions, and helping them improve in school opened my eyes to this rewarding career. School psychology really interests me because I love that I would be working primarily one-on-one with children and creating personalized plans to help each one. Another aspect of this career that I love is that while some responsibilities are independent work, I would still be working with a team that is working toward a common goal. This common goal includes making sure that every child is getting the proper education, interventions, and mental health treatments that are necessary for them to live a productive life.”

Flores’ research interests include the social/emotional development of children and how this impacts their development later in life. She is also intrigued by behavior disorders in children and adolescents, especially as it relates to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety/mood disorders. As a specialist student in the school psychology program, Flores hopes to develop a strong background in analyzing behaviors and applying strategies to help children of all levels of functioning cope with frustrations in the educational environment.

Flores completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Illinois State University in May. After she obtains her specialist degree, she plans to pursue a career as a school psychologist in an elementary or secondary setting. Flores plans to focus on assisting all of her future students to have a successful school experience and reach their potential both in school and in their careers.

The Audrey J. Grupe Fellowship in School Psychology was established and funded by gifts from Audrey J. Grupe and Mary Jane McCarthy, to recognize the financial aid they received while pursuing their degrees and to commemorate their professional careers. They wish to help fellowship recipients, from their home states, earn graduate degrees in school psychology so that the recipients might provide services to children and their families in a school setting. Applicants who accept admission to the specialist program in School Psychology and hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution in Illinois or Indiana are automatically considered eligible for the Grupe Fellowship.

The Grupe Fellowship in School Psychology awardee will be recognized at the Department of Psychology’s 2018 Alumni Day Awards Ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Friday, October 12,  in DeGarmo 551. The department will also hold its annual Alumni Day Dinner later that same evening at Biaggi’s Ristorante Italiano.