kelly whaling

Counseling, Clinical, & School Psychology

Research Interests

I am passionate about strengths and resiliency-based research examining effective prevention and intervention programs for marginalized and oppressed youth who have experienced trauma, especially gang-involved or justice-involved youth. I value the involvement of stakeholders in the research process, as well as interdisciplinary work. As a result, I collaborate with youth themselves, community programs, juvenile detention centers, schools, and academics, with the goal of systems-level changes that will foster the health, wellness, and thriving of youth in these communities. Those who attend doctoral programs hold privilege and power; we dictate which lines of inquiry are allowed to be explored and how they are explored. It is our obligation to share this power until it is dismantled, collaborating with community agencies and stakeholders to conduct research which aims to eliminate systemic inequities and oppression and foster thriving in all people. 

Mentoring Experiences

I love working with undergraduates! As a first-generation college student, I felt aimless and confused during my first year of undergraduate work, until I took a general education psychology course, which led to me finding a mentor and discovering my passion for research. Academic research changed my life trajectory for the better. My experience mentoring undergraduates is rewarding, because it is an honor to play even a small role in facilitating the same journey I went on for other students. Students join our laboratory and often stay for 1-2 years. It is astonishing to watch the personal and professional development of students during that time, and to watch students transform from being unfamiliar with scientific literacy to learning skills, owning their strengths, and co-authoring presentations for national conferences and outcome evaluations for community agencies. I especially love working with undergraduates from marginalized communities and non-traditional backgrounds; these students, who are often pushed out of academia, blossom as researchers and community workers with tangible skills they can re-invest into their own communities. 

Meaning of the Award

This award is so meaningful to me, and I am honored that my undergraduate mentees and my advisor felt I was worthy of it. Without mentorship, it is difficult for first-generation college students like myself to complete higher education; my success in academia, and even my personal development and growth, is directly due to the mentoring experiences I received as an undergraduate. Because becoming involved with research as an undergraduate was pivotal to me professionally and personally, I am passionate about offering this experience to undergraduates, especially undergraduates from underrepresented groups who have been told explicitly, implicitly, and structurally that they do not belong in academia. Winning this award demonstrated to me that I might actually be making the meaningful difference in the lives of non-traditional and underrepresented students that I have always hoped to make.