Jerny Walls is a soon-to-be graduate in LES who has found a deep interest in Educational Psychology while at Illinois.
A little bit about Jerny:
Q: Where is home for you?
A: East St. Louis, IL.
Q: What is your year and major?
A: I'm a senior majoring in Learning and Education Studies.
Q: What do you enjoy about the campus experience, so far?
A: I really enjoy my RSO, McKinley Health Center Sexual Health Peers. Within this organization, I teach members of our campus about safe sex practices and healthy relationships. We do tabling events where we hand out safer sex supplies, and we also conduct workshops that focus on safe sex, sex positivity, self love, and relationships.
Q: How did you know you wanted to go into the field of education?
A: I always knew that I wanted to work in education, but I wasn’t sure what field within education I wanted to work in. At first, I decided on teaching K-12 because when people say they worked in education, I automatically assumed that meant they were a teacher. However, I began to learn more about the various roles within education as a discipline. The course EDUC 202 really helped me decide what I want to do within education, which is becoming an educational psychologist. This course taught me more about the educational disparities and debts that are placed in historically looted schools, and how these debts/disparities are impacting the lives of students and teachers. These disparities really influenced my decision on becoming an educational psychologist.
Q: What do you enjoy about the College of Education?
A: I do appreciate the size of our college. I enjoy that I’m not in huge lecture halls, and that I have the opportunity to connect more with my classmates and professors. There is also a huge supportive nature not only from my advisors but also my fellow classmates. I love how supportive my classmates are, they really have helped me stay motivated during my college career.
Q: Do you have a favorite professor or course? Why?
A: My favorite course is the History of Education with professor Jon Hale. The class is very writing intensive, but I enjoyed the curriculum of the course. I learned a lot about the history of education in the U.S. and I liked the fact that we learned how these past contributions are impacting the current education system.
Q: What is a fun fact about yourself?
A: I have a huge earring collection! I’m trying to have a pair for each day of the year. I have about 200 pair of earrings so far.
Q: Tell us about any research you’ve done and the mentorship you’ve received from your instructors.
A: During my sophomore year, I worked with Dr. Ruedas-Gracia in her lab. I learned a lot about the IRB process, literature reviews, and data coding. Her research focused on a sense of belonging. During my time in her lab, I grew a strong interest for educational psychology, which made me want to explore more Educational Psych labs. I’m currently working with Dr. Michelle Perry and Ph.D. student Briana Williams. Dr. Perry’s research primarily focuses on teacher quality when teaching math. Williams, who is advised by Dr. Helen Neville, is working on researching HBCUs and how they support the intersectional identities of LGBTQ+ students in counseling centers. In both of these labs I worked on developing coding rubrics as well as coding data. Outside of lab work, I am also a McNair scholar. During my time with McNair, I conducted my own research on the school to prison nexus. Because of McNair, I was able to attend numerous research conferences to present my research and network with others.
Q: Tell us about your future plans, post-graduation.
A: My plan post-graduation is to start my Ph.D. program in Educational Psychology here at Illinois.
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