Jessica Kansky

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Jessica Kansky
Jessica Kansky

Jessica is a sixth-year PhD student in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Her dissertation research focuses on the relationship between romantic relationship quality and mental health from adolescence through adulthood. Of specific interest is when certain romantic relationship qualities impact concurrent mental health and when/which qualities may predict long-term changes in mental health from adolescence through adulthood. She will also assess whether gender, relationship duration, and close friendship quality impact those associations between romantic quality and mental health. 

Jessica participated in the PhD+ Teaching module. As a PhD Plus Liaison, she connects the university-wide PhD Plus program to students in the Psychology Department, with additional focus on career and professional development. Jessica is planning on creating an alumni database and organizing career panels, guided by her mentor Sonali Majumdar, Associate Director of Professional Development in the Office of Graduate & Postdoctoral Affairs. Through Jess’s collaboration with the Psychology Department, PhD Plus programs are now included in monthly department-wide newsletters.


Q: Why did you apply for the PhD Plus Liaisons Program?

A: I applied for the PhD Plus Liaisons Program as a way to become more engaged with the University as a whole, outside of my specific department. In particular, I wanted to share institutional resources with students in my department who may not be aware of them. My interests in teaching and mentoring fueled my enthusiasm to join the PhD Plus Liaisons Program. In my role as a Liaison, I hope to help students determine their own career trajectories and develop professional skills along the way.


Q: What are you doing as a PhD Plus Liaison in the context of your department and “Career and Professional Development” area of focus?

A: Currently, I am creating a Clinical Psychology Alumni database to foster a mentoring program between current graduate students and alumni. The goal of this project is to encourage students to consider various career paths that exist beyond traditional academic positions by providing them with resources to learn about diverse job opportunities. I am also organizing meet-and-greets and panels with local individuals working in various positions within the field of psychology to provide an additional avenue for students to increase their knowledge of career options.


Q: What professional skills are you developing as a PhD Plus Liaison?

A: I hope to develop my networking and communication skills. I also am honing my organizational, time management, and leadership skills as I juggle several different tasks and create events for my department. Finally, I am developing my flexibility/adaptability skills as I navigate last minute or unexpected changes to planned events.


About PhD Plus Liaisons Program

The primary role of the PhD Plus Liaisons is to bring the professional training provided by the broader program into specific disciplinary/departmental contexts and to communicate the needs of specific departments and disciplines back to the broader program. Liaisons communicate with students and faculty in their home departments about their peers' professional development needs, helping to gather departmental feedback to be used for the development and improvement of the program and conferring with liaisons in other departments across the University of Virginia. In addition to supporting their fellow graduate students and informing the continued evolution of the PhD Plus Program, Liaisons themselves benefit from sustained access to training, mentorship, and support in a professional focus of their choosing.


Over the following months, PhD+ Liaison highlights will provide an opportunity to get to know the Liaisons for Academic Year 2019-2020. Learn more about these PhD student leaders, why they decided to participate in PhD Plus Liaisons program, their professional development goals, and how they are collaborating with the PhD Plus program and their departments.

We will open the Call for 2020-2021 Applications for the Liaisons Program in Spring 2020.

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