Jeanette Perales, PhD
Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Calvario Perales Counseling PLLC
Ph.D. Counselor Education, Western Michigan University
M.A., Clinical Mental Health Counseling, Gonzaga University
B.S., Psychology, Washington State University
Dr. Jeanette’s story and advice in her own words: As a child of immigrants, I wanted to reach for the stars. I wanted to reach my potential for myself and for my parents. My parents sacrificed so much so that their family could have more opportunities than they had. I knew the McNair program was going to help me form the path I wanted to create for myself. The McNair program was a challenging experience. I was not used to that type of rigor, but it was a necessary learning experience to get to where I am now. This program built my confidence in the academic realm. Because the McNair family believed in me, I also believed in myself. Even though I had a long way to go, the McNair program was the catalyst to my success in graduate school. The McNair family made it feel safe for me to need, receive, and ask for help, which is a life-long necessity. There were several moments in my PhD program that I thought about my time in the McNair program, and it would bring me comfort and motivation to continue.
Practice networking now. Networking will help in many aspects. It helped me gain funding each year of my PhD program.
In searching for my master’s program, the fit of the program was more important than funding. My professors had the most welcoming environment. It was an expensive degree, but I had the best education and would not trade it for anything else. Reflect on what is a priority for you.
Structure your day by the hour if necessary. You will be very busy; there were weeks without having a day off because I had so much work to do. For context, I had a regular 20-hour-a-week assistantship.
I chose my PhD advisor due to fit and not so much on my research topic. This was essential for me. So again, you must choose what is a priority for you.
Choose the committee that shows you support early on. I was assigned my advisor (and chose to stay with her) and the other two members were my professors, so I knew how they worked and most importantly I knew how they worked with me.
You need social support. You need a group of people that you know you can rely on and can also have fun together. I wouldn’t have been able to get through graduate school without it.
Find routines that help you focus. My favorite music to listen to was Ludovico Einaudi’s piano music. This music helped me focus, starting from my McNair days all the way to writing my dissertation. I liked going to coffee shops and to campus with my twin sister and/or friends to work on homework/writing. When the pandemic hit, I would do dissertation writing on Zoom with my friend and sister.
Writing groups help you get the dissertation/thesis done! The support and the accountability will keep you writing. Try writing most days out of the week to keep the momentum going.