Back Home Again- A Q & A with Instructor of Psychology Melissa Hamil

Melissa Hamil has considered Bethel College her second home since she transferred here from Columbia College in 2004. Her heart for serving and her curiosity about the behaviors and actions of others first drew her to Bethel’s psychology program. Hamil continued to follow God’s calling for her life after graduation by pursuing graduate school to become a licensed school psychologist, receive her Master’s in Education, and her Ph.D. in Guidance and Psychological Services in School Psychology. The same passions that originally drew Hamil to Bethel led her back again in the fall of 2012, this time as an instructor of psychology.

I recently spoke with Hamil about her experience as a Bethel graduate and saw firsthand the passion and joy that she employs in every aspect of her life.

KB: Why did you choose Bethel for your undergraduate degree? Was psychology always your major?

MH: Following high school graduation, I attended Columbia College in Chicago for interior architecture. After some realization that I wasn’t very good at my art classes, I began to think about what else I could do and where I should go.

My cousin was attending Bethel and encouraged me to consider visiting. In looking back, I don’t exactly remember why I chose psychology as a major or if I ever really considered another school to attend. I simply remember feeling “at home” when I was on campus and that it was truly the place I needed to be.

KB: What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

MH: What spare time? I think I’m still carving out some of the things I enjoy doing. I do love weird, do-it-yourself projects. Ask my husband — I love Menards. I love old-school scrapbooking where I take old magazines and cut them up and collage stuff. I’m weirdly in love with monotonous tasks like organizing beads that get messed up. It’s the enjoyment of the simple things that I like, like watching my son Eli ride our black Lab like a horse.

KB: Tell me about your choice for graduate school.

MH: After graduating from Bethel in the spring of 2007, I made the decision to attend graduate school for school psychology at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. By December 2008, I had obtained my Master’s in Education, and after I defend my dissertation, I will have a Ph.D. in Guidance and Psychological Services in School Psychology.

KB: Tell me about your family. How did you meet your husband?

MH: I met Nate my first semester in Dr. Spivey’s general psychology class. We seemed to become friends immediately and I soon discovered that he was friends with several of my roommates. It was during our senior year that our official relationship was established. Nate and I have been married for five amazing years and we have one son, Eli, who will be 2 in February.

KB: How did you get started teaching at Bethel?

MH: Following graduation, Nate and I remained close with our professors in the psychology department, and visited whenever we were in the area. In a visit after our son was born, Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D., mentioned to me that a position within the department was opening up and expressed  that it would be a great to have someone like me fill it. Since I still had my yearlong, full-time internship to complete as well as my dissertation, I was not sure how it would all work out. After much consideration and prayer, we moved forward with a plan to begin the position in fall 2012.

KB: What have you learned from teaching so far?

MH: So far, I have learned a great deal! 1) Despite how difficult or challenging a situation, class, or even an entire day may be, I have learned to find my strength and joy in the Lord. 2) Flexibility is the name of the game. 3) I appreciate my colleagues and their encouragement and support more than I ever thought possible.

KB: Does this feel like something you’d like to do long term, or do you have other career aspirations?

MH: I would love to find additional ways to connect more directly with the surrounding school corporations and communities. Since I am a licensed school psychologist, my hope is to act as a consultant and liaison between the collegiate and primary and secondary school levels. I have loved my time here so far, and as long as it remains God’s will and plan for my life, I see this as a long-term placement.

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