Navigating post college plans can be hard, especially if you don’t have a mentor to help you. While it may seem like a lot of people have it together, some need an extra push or time to figure it out. Like many of these students, Dr. Sabine Doebel originally didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do upon graduation. She loved psychology (this was her undergraduate major), but as a first generation college student, her parents were unable to guide her through her college career, and she discovered most things on her own, a bit later then some of her peers.
Now, Dr. Doebel is the Applied Development Psychology Department’s newest member, studying how kids develop, and how executive function works. These are skills required for exercising control over thought and action, usually in the face of conflicting habits and tendencies. Executive function skills are needed in everyday life, and a loss of them can cause a child to have trouble focusing or following directions.
It took her some time to find what she was really passionate about studying. She points out that she never did an undergraduate thesis, nor was she specifically mentored in psychology. She attended a very large university and was too shy and intimidated to approach her professors for guidance.
To give herself more time to think about what she wanted to pursue in graduate school, she went into the workforce as a paid research assistant at a local hospital. She also completed additional undergraduate coursework, this time in political science and philosophy. In her political theory class, she learned about philosophers’ competing ideas about human nature. This raised questions for her about how we can know what human nature is. She found herself drawn again to psychology and thinking empirically, and trying to figure out how the mind itself develops. At this point she realized that she needed to go to graduate school for developmental psychology.
She eventually went on to the Institute of Child Development in Minnesota to study how we development skills in using conscious control (executive function), under the mentorship of Philip David Zelazo
She eventually ended up at George Mason because she is passionate about what she does. Mason is a good place to do research with a diverse student population, and she’s already started to work on a database of with her graduate students on children from different backgrounds. Her goal is to conduct research that produces data that applicable to children and parents in the real world, giving them something to work with when dealing with the development of children. She wants to know what natural tendencies are there from the beginning, and what eventually develops. She also loves teaching at Mason, especially learning about the undergraduates and their diverse paths and life experiences.
While it took Dr. Doebel some time to find her way, she has eventually found it, and she plans on putting her research to good use. She also hopes to be that mentor to undergraduate and graduate students who love developmental psychology.