Laura Chesniak-Phipps is originally from Chicago. She completed her Ph.D. in community/clinical psychology in 2002 at Wichita State University (WSU). Her primary research focus has been on program evaluation and prevention. Dr. Chesniak-Phipps spent many years evaluating prevention programs in areas including HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy and adolescent suicide. She applied research methods to determine if the programs were effective and how they could be improved. Teaching has always been her passion. Dr. Chesniak-Phipps has been teaching psychology classes since the first day she walked into graduate school at WSU. After graduation, she worked as an adjunct instructor at several community colleges in Illinois. She has been married to her husband for over 14 years, and they have two daughters, Audrey and Lila.
Faculty Spotlight Questions:
Who am I and how did I get to GCU?
For the past 10 years, my main role was as a stay-at-home mom to my two daughters. I balanced being home with them while teaching adjunct in the evenings and while they were in school. After relocating to Arizona, I started to consider returning to work full-time and hoped my decision to stay home for so many years would not be an impediment. Almost immediately after making this decision, a position at GCU opened up and was an excellent fit. I feel incredibly blessed to be at GCU.
What do I enjoy most in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences?
I love my students! Even if I am having a terrible day, I know that once I get to class, their inquisitiveness and enthusiasm will be infectious. I have taught at many different institutions of higher learning, and I have never met students quite like GCU students. The level of respect they have for their instructors and their peers always inspires me. I appreciate that they share their faith with each other and with me and the kindness that they show. I had a student who was not feeling well in class one day while we were working on CLC projects. Two other students left class and returned with a meal for her. She had only mentioned that she had not eaten and wasn’t feeling well. Witnessing kindness like this inspires me to be a better person, and it is gift to be part of a university where moments like this occur often.
What advice do I have for psychology students?
You don’t have to have all the answers right away. I had a very difficult time choosing a major, but psychology can be applied to so many areas. A degree in psychology will help you to be a critical thinker, hone your writing skills and help you understand human behavior. Even if you decide not to work in the field, these skills will be invaluable to you and apply to a variety of other professions. My first job out of college had nothing to do with psychology (it was in political consulting), but my degree was applicable. Explore the field, get to know your professors, volunteer and do internships, if possible. This will help you decide which path is best for you and eliminate the ones that are not.
Oh, and always read your assignment instructions carefully and use spell check!