Current Students

Rickey Lee BatesRickey Lee Bates

Hometown: Memphis, Tennessee

Education and Career Background: BA/Psychology-The University of Mississippi, MS/Clinical Mental Health Counseling – The University of Memphis
Formerly the Vice-President of Marketing for U.S. Foods in Memphis

Year Started the Program: 2015

Advisor: Dr. Douglas Strohmer

Research Interests: LGBT, Prison population, Pedophilia, Addiction.

Current Research Team Membership: 1) Personality/Psychopathology Research of Instruments and Scales using Multicultural Sensitivity (PRISMS) 2) Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Allies (LGBTQA) Research Team

Graduate Assistantship: The Department of Leadership

Why you chose U of M: I chose Memphis as I met people who graduated from the program. I never knew that Counseling Psychology existed, and the Social Justice aspect appealed greatly to me. The rest is history.

Interests Outside of Academics: I work with Memphis Area Gay Youth (MAGY) on most Friday evenings. We provide a safe environment for LGBT youth as well as allies. It is one of the most rewarding things I have been involved in. I live with my partner Tim and our three dogs in midtown Memphis. We both love rollercoasters and will plan vacations around amusement parks. Laughter is something I value in my relationships with everyone, professional and personal.


Richard DeBordRichard Scott DeBord

Hometown: Memphis, TN

Education and Career Background: After my injury, I returned to school in 2007 at The University of Memphis to earn a psychology degree. In 2011, I entered the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling Master's program. Through that program, I did a practicum and internship at The HART Center which provides therapy for individual who are court mandated for drug/alcohol treatment. In 2014, I entered the CPSY program and I am currently on research teams and in a practicum placement at the university's Counseling Center.

Year Started the Program: 2014

Advisor: Dr. Douglas Strohmer

Research Interests: trauma, disability, psychological aspects of spinal cord injury, international issues

Current Research Team Membership: PPAL (Dr. Strohmer; assessment research); International Team (Dr. Ovrebo); Dr. Marks (work hope/international students)

Graduate Assistantship: With Dr. Lustig (family of origin/career decision making)

Why you chose U of M: This is my hometown university, my first choice for every degree, and, while heartbreak often comes into our sports, it's Tigers or nothing.

Interests Outside of Academics: Throughout high school, I worked at a plant nursery/landscape center and coordinated self-directed landscaping projects, experiences that fuel current passions. Besides landscaping, I enjoy movies, sports, friends/family, and, especially, my dog Yogi.


Adam FishelAdam Fishel

Hometown: Okemos, MI

Education and Career Background: I graduated from Michigan State University with a Marketing degree in 2008 and spent the next few years in the business world. In 2014, I graduated from Barry University in Miami, Florida with a dual focus Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Couples, Marriage and Family Counseling.

Year Started the Program: 2014

Advisor: Dr. Suzanne Lease

Research Interests: Positive Psychology, Health Psychology, Gratitude.

Current Research Team Membership: PRIMS/PPALS Team Member and Wellness Team Member

Graduate Assistantship: Graduate Assistant at the Center for Academic Retention and Enrichment Services

Why you chose U of M: I chose U of M because of similar interests with faculty members, its track record of helping to create excellent all around psychologists and the accelerated structure that the program provides. Why I would choose U of M now is because I have experienced working with a caring and thoughtful faculty, one that is constantly working to help its students and improve the program, the closeness and camaraderie with my cohort mates and the flexibility that the program provides for me to pursue my professional goals and interest areas, in whatever direction they may go.

Interests Outside of Academics: Running, spending time with my wife and dog, movies, triathlons, traveling with my friends and enjoying life in whatever situation presents itself.


AliAli Fuss

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Education and Career Background: I began my education by earning an A.A.S from UW-Waukesha with an emphasis in Psychology. I then finished my time as an undergraduate by earning a B.S. from UW-La Crosse in Psychology and Criminal Justice. Following my bachelors, I took a year off and helped run a small haberdashery in Waukesha Wi. I received my masters from Marquette University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. During my practicum and internship, I worked at a non-profit grief resource center.

Year Started the Program: 2016
Advisor: Dr. Douglas Strohmer

Research Interests: Invisible illness/disability, the impact they have on children/young adults, grief as it relates to medical loss, integrated healthcare-how we can best work with medical providers, how to help patients with a chronic illness/disability move from surviving to thriving in their new normal, mental health and law.

Current Research Team Membership: I currently am a member of Dr. Lightsey, Dr. Bridges and Dr. Lease's teams. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing the research teams are! It is a true learning and team approach atmosphere that is giving me great experience as a novice researcher.

Graduate Assistantship: I am a research assistant for Dr. Strohmer, and I teach the undergraduate Career Development course.

Why you chose U of M: What really stood out to me about U of M was the atmosphere. The students and faculty have created a family like environment that is full of kindness and support. The program here is very student focused, both academically and personally. I never felt that I had to stretch myself to fit into someone else's interest box, and I saw that the current students weren't being put into those boxes either. When I spoke to the faculty about my diagnosis I was never met with hesitation or pity, instead I was met with support and positivity which was very powerful for me. Also, the faculty had many interests that aligned well with what I want to do, and my advisor has been an outstanding source of support and encouragement. If you asked me about my choice now I would tell you that there is no better fit out there for me, and I could not have made a better decision.

Interests Outside of Academics: I spend a lot of time with my dog Tyrion, my boyfriend Adam and my friends whenever I can. At the beginning of this year I began training for a 10k and have quickly become a fan of early morning running. I love to go hiking, and travel when I can on road trips. I am also a big time Harry Potter nerd and I can talk about Game of Thrones for days!


Mae-Lynn GermanyMae-Lynn Germany

Hometown: While my childhood home was in Pearl River, Louisiana—I wouldn't consider it a hometown for me. Louisiana, Mississippi, or Tennessee—my home has never been further than 20 miles from the Mississippi river. Memphis is slowly creeping up as my hometown but my heart will forever be with the New Orleans area. Future hometown? Asheville.

Education and Career Background: Primarily, I've been a research assistant for the past 7 years in various cognitive, clinical, and political science labs. Both of my degrees are from the University of Memphis: M.S. Counseling, Clinical Mental Health and B.S. in Psychology, minor in Anthropology. My practicum sites at the Master's level in Memphis were Healing Arts Research and Training center working with court mandated clients and University of Memphis' Counseling Center.

Year Started the Program: 2015

Advisor: Incredibly grateful to be under Dr. Sara K. Bridges' mentorship and advisement. Her style as an advisor, researcher, and teacher is constructivist in nature and congruent with a large part of my professional identity.

Research Interests: My current interest vary across a broad range of topics including: personal meaning and constructions of sexuality, ambiguous loss and disenfranchised grief, grief and bereavement in death and uncommon losses, and assessment construction, norming, validation, reliability. My particular populations of interest, both empirically and clinically, are college students (specifically first generation) as well as LGBTQIA individuals.

Current Research Team Membership: Sexuality team (Bridges), Assessment team (Strohmer), LGBTQIA (Ovrebo), Moral Injury (student run). The diversity in research opportunities at the U of M allows me to develop both my quantitative and qualitative skills. The department is full of prolific researchers and offers students with many opportunities for publications and presentations. The mentorship and training in each lab allows many students to be as involved as they like. It's an excellent place whether you are a seasoned researcher or just starting out.

Graduate Assistantship: My graduate assistantship is a research assistant position through the FedEx Institute for Intelligent System's Minerva Language Across Cultures lab. I am currently assisting in examining political and social discourse to identify language components associated with armed crises; bluffs and credible threats; as well as protests, riots, and rebellions. I have the opportunity to manage large data sets, create corpora, utilize automated linguistic analysis tools, develop statistic skills, and publish and present various academic papers.

Why you chose U of M: The diversity of training experiences the city of Memphis offers, supportive faculty, and social justice focus of the program appeared congruent with my doctoral needs. I felt that the experiences in this program would prepare me to work in a multitude of settings (academia, community, college counseling centers) which affords me future career flexibility. I also sought a continuation in development of my professional identity as a constructivist clinician with additional training in coherence therapy.

Interests Outside of Academics: I've found great enjoyment in exploring the personal and cultural significance of meaningful dishes with those around me. I'm amazed at the ways food reflects a part of our history and identity. Spending time learning someone's favorite dish, collaboratively cooking, or figuring out a way to recreate a meal is a quick way to my heart. When I'm not cooking, I enjoy kicking back with video games, gardening, or the occasional pottery venture.


sarah_hatcherSarah Hatcher

Hometown: Knoxville, TN

Education and Career Background: I received my bachelor degree in Interior Design in 2003 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. After a variety of jobs and life experiences, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in psychology. I completed my MA in Counseling Psychology in 2014 at Webster University in Vienna, Austria. Currently, I am in my second year of the Counseling Psychology Doctorate (CPSY) program at the University of Memphis.

Year Started the Program: 2014

Advisor: Dr. Elin Ovrebo

Research Interests: International and multicultural issues in psychology, disability – particularly neurodevelopmental disorders, marginalized populations such as human trafficking victims and refugees, social justice interventions and advocacy, positive psychology, wellness and mindfulness

Current Research Team Membership: International Issues in Counseling Psychology (, TigerLIFE (

Graduate Assistantship: Disability Resources for Students Office (DRS) at UofM

Why you chose U of M: Research in the CPSY program closely matched my interests and the program allows students to participate in multiple research teams. I have several research and career interests and the UofM program allows me to freely explore those areas. The open and friendly demeanor of the faculty and students at UofM also really impressed me. Before I applied, I emailed students and my current advisor and I was surprised at the detailed and enthusiastic responses that I received! I could tell that students are valued in this program and I would be supported throughout my training.

Interests Outside of Academics: Traveling, hiking, camping, jogging, watching live music and eating good food I didn't have to make (cooking is not my thing ;D). To wind down I do yoga, read, or binge watch something. Another thing I love about the UofM CPSY program; the faculty and other students will check on you to make sure you are balancing school work and self-care, which is vital to success in grad school!


ChristyChristy New

Hometown: Aiea, Hawaii/Baltimore, Maryland

Education and Career Background:
B.S. – University of Maryland (Family Studies/Psychology)
M.A./C.A.S. – Towson University (Psychology/School Psychology)

I am a nationally certified school psychologist and have spent the past six years working in school districts in Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee.

Year Started the Program: 2016

Advisor: Dr. Sara Bridges

Research Interests: My primary research interests are related to human sexuality. I also have a secondary research interest in cognitive and physical disabilities.

Current Research Team Membership: Constructivist Sexuality Research Team led by Dr. Sara Bridges

Graduate Assistantship: I currently am the graduate assistant for inclusion and sexual diversity in the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Why you chose U of M: After interviewing, I felt confident that the program would allow me to shape my own development, as well as would also provide me with excellent mentoring relationships. The program's emphasis on social justice was also a critical factor. Those three combined made the program a no-brainer for me in terms of being a great fit!

Additionally, Memphis is a diverse city that offers a myriad of training options that no doubt will help me develop into a well-rounded psychologist.

Interests Outside of Academics: When not in school, I'm typically road-tripping or camping with my rescue pitbull Gemma!


Shondolyn SandersShondolyn Sanders

 Hometown: West Memphis, Arkansas

Education/Career Background: I received an M.S in Counseling (Clinical rehabilitation) from the University of Memphis and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

Year Started the Program: 2015

Advisor: Dr. Chrisann Schiro-Geist

Research Interests: My research interests include issues relating to chronic illness and disability and health disparities among marginalized populations.

Current Research Team Membership: I am currently a member of the TigerLIFE Research Team.

Graduate Assistantship: I am also a graduate assistant at TigerLIFE, a Post-Secondary Education Program for individuals with intellectual disabilities, housed within the University of Memphis Institute on Disability (UMID).

Why you chose U of M: I chose the UofM because I was attracted to the intense focus on diversity that this program offers.

Interests Outside of Academics: I enjoy being around my family and friends. On a typical Saturday, I prefer to be at the park with my nephew and niece. All in all, I enjoy all things that make me laugh. 


Michael SchaefferMichael Schaeffer

Hometown: Germantown, Tennessee

Education/Career Background: I obtained my B.A. in Japanese Area Studies with a minor in Cultural Anthropology from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. I received my M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from the University of Memphis. During my practicum and internship, I worked at a substance use treatment facility and a college counseling center, respectively.

Year Started the Program: 2015

Advisor: Dr. Sara Bridges

Research Interests:  LGBT issues (identity development, internalized homophobia, etc.); HIV (protective factors, stigma, safe-sex behaviors); relationship therapy; social advocacy with sexual minorities; training therapists to work with and improving services for individuals who identify with alternative sexuality communities (e.g., BDSM, polyamory, ethical nonmonogamy, furries, etc.).

Current Research Team Membership: The Sexuality Research Lab with Dr. Bridges and the LGBTQA Research Lab with Dr. Ovrebo.

Graduate Assistantship: I currently work with several faculty members within the department. My duties include assisting with research, data entry, and maintaining and updating the department website.

Why you chose U of M: I had built relationships with several of the faculty in this department during my master's degree, particularly through my participation in the LGBTQA research lab. By continuing my education at the University of Memphis, I am able to further develop these relationships. Another major reason I chose to pursue my doctorate here is the cohesive, supportive environment fostered by both the faculty and the students.

Interests Outside of Academics: I enjoy video games, movies, cartoons, and cooking in my free time. I love dogs and hang out with my golden retriever, Holly, as much as possible. I also try to eat at many different local restaurants (which Memphis has in spades).


Rami SteinruckRami E. Steinruck

Hometown: Home is wherever my family can be found: Both family of origin and chosen family. I was born and raised in Luzerne, a small town in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Additionally, I find Home in Phoenix, Arizona; Kutztown and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; and now, Memphis, Tennessee. Home isn't in a physical place, but where a meal feeding the mind and spirit, as well as the body, is found.

Education and Career Background: I attended Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, receiving my B.S. in Art Education in 2003. I was a high school art instructor for 6 years in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to teaching, I coached cross-country, soccer, and track and field. I received my Master's degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education-Counseling Licensure from Kutztown University in 2015. My clinical experience includes completing my master's practicum and internship at Lehigh University with Counseling and Psychological Services from January 2014- May 2015.

Year Started the Program: 2015.

Advisor: Dr. Suzanne Lease

Research Interests: My research interests include studying counseling considerations for LGBT individuals, with particular attention to the coming out process and career decision-making. More broadly, I am also interested in college student populations, gender studies, and sexual consent education and policies.

Current Research Team Membership: I am a member of the Constructivist Sexuality Research Lab and the LGBTQA Research Team.

Graduate Assistantship: I am a research assistant for Dr. Eraina Schauss and teach an undergraduate course titled "Career Development."

Why I chose U of M: I chose The University of Memphis because the department closely aligns with my research interests. On my interview, I loved meeting the current students and faculty, getting a strong sense that The University of Memphis has a vibrant, engaging, and challenging Counseling Psychology Ph.D. Program. I felt I would be a good fit for the program and that the program would be a good fit for me. I am proud and excited to have been offered admission to the program and am enjoying my time here!

Interests Outside of Academics: I love an adventure! Whether it's trying a new recipe or hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I am up for it! I am an avid runner and cyclist, and an aspiring proficient swimmer. I spend my leisure time cooking, baking, drinking coffee and reading paper books, making art and searching for excellent Mexican restaurants.


Madeline StenersonMadeline Stenersen

Hometown: Marion, Iowa

Education and Career Background: I graduated with my B.A. in psychology from the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, IA) in 2013 then went on to get my master's at Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI) in 2015.

Year Started the Program: 2015

Advisor: Dr. Elin Ovrebo

Research Interests: Women in the sex trade industry, human trafficking, international psychology and cross-cultural help-seeking behaviors

Current Research Team Membership: International Team (specifically the human trafficking sector) and the LGBT team (specifically the trauma sector)

Graduate Assistantship: Rhodes College Buckman Center for International Education

Why I chose U of M: I chose U of M primarily for its student-focused atmosphere. When I came for an interview I found that the faculty were very interested in what I had to contribute and also welcoming me to do my own research and pursue my own interests with their help. I also found that Dr. Ovrebo's research was very near my area of interests, and having chosen U of M I am able to continue and expand those interests.

Interests Outside of Academics: In my spare time I like to socialize with friends, spend time outdoors, hang around with my cat Barron, and crochet just about anything. 


JenJennifer Yeoward

Hometown: Rock Falls, IL

Education and Career Background: Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Gender and Women's Studies from Illinois College; Masters of Science in Clinical-Counseling Psychology from Illinois State University. I worked for two years as a Crisis Clinician and a Behavioral Health Clinician at Sinnissippi Centers, Inc. in Dixon, IL.

Year Started the Program: 2016

Advisor: Dr. Laura Marks

Research Interests: I am deeply interested in anything related to gender issues and grief and loss. I also enjoy research related to vocational counseling and the older adult population.

Current Research Team Membership: Dr. Bridges' Constructivist Sexuality Research Lab and Dr. Lease's Masculinity Research Team

Graduate Assistantship: Career Tracks GA through Disability Resources for Students and Career Services

Why you chose U of M: I chose U of M because of the similar interests I share with many of the faculty members. Additionally, I really loved the research teams that the university offered as well as the program's mission regarding diversity. The faculty in this program are extremely supportive of our research interests and our personal well-being.

Interests Outside of Academics: I love reading (anything not related to academics)! I am a huge movie buff and can love quoting them. I am a Hufflepuff (at times a Gryffindor), a Whovian, and a huge Disney fan (we don't have a clever name). I love spending time with my dog niece (Lexi), getting tattoos, going to concerts, spending time with family and friends, and trying to fulfill my wanderlust!