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Melissa Cyders

Department of Psychology Ph.D. Student

Melissa Cyders has a supervisor who always says, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Well, in Cyders’ case, the student and the teacher are both blossoming.

Since her arrival at the University of Kentucky to earn her doctorate in clinical psychology, Cyders’ skills as a teacher, clinician and researcher have grown by leaps and bounds.

“I think that, for me, those skills all work hand-in-hand,” Cyders said. “The goal in each of these positions is to learn, to teach and to help. I need to learn about psychological phenomena in order to teach others so that they can help themselves. I’ve had to learn to see the big picture while still paying attention to details.”

Currently, Cyders is a part-time behavorial health resident at the orofacial pain center at the College of Dentistry, which allows her to gain valuable, first-hand experience with psychologial assesments, education and consultation with patients.

A graduate of Ashland High School in Ashland, Ohio, Cyders determined early on that learning what she wanted, was just as important as learning. The realization during her first year at Ohio University that her interests lay more “in the psychological than the physiological” prompted her to switch her major from biology to psychology, and Cyders said that setting a goal of getting her Ph.D. in clinical psychology was a lofty one because she was a first-generation college student. 

However, it quickly became apparent that there was no reason for concern.

Excited about her acceptance into the UK program, Cyders said the faculty almost immediately excited and impressed her, but while she was overwhelmed at first, only a few months were required to ease into and get comfortable with her role.

“The Department of Psychology has top-notch faculty on staff and everyone had such a high-level of expertise in their areas that it was fascinating and thrilling to have the opportunity to learn from them,” Cyders said.

Cyders also feels that the UK College of Arts and Sciences, in which the Department of Psychology is housed, has helped nurture and groom interests in other areas beyond her degree focus.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with many different professionals while here,” Cyders said, “and all of them have taken a personal interest in my education and what I wanted to get out of the experience. Much of my current research, for which I received an NRSA F 31 predoctoral research grant, has led me to seek out assistance from many different faculty members within and outside of the Department of Psychology. Although it has been overwhelming at times to take on new areas of research, it’s also been intellectually stimulating, and I’m glad that I was encouraged to go outside my area of comfort with this information.”

More than anything, though, Cyders believes that UK and A&S prepare students for the rigors of life off campus.

“UK and the College of Arts and Sciences have helped me to develop advanced research, clinical and academic skills that will carry me throughout my career,” Cyders said. “Although I am nervous about the prospect of leaving graduate school and entering ‘the real world,’ it’s clear to me that I am ready to take this step, mostly because of the high level of training I have received during my five years of study at UK.”