Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Our graduates

We pride ourselves on developing happy, successful students.


Christina Phillips

Graduated in 2009 with a BA in psychology (honours)

I am currently a lawyer in Melbourne, Australia. I have been living here since 2011.

I enjoyed my time as an undergraduate at TRU. The experience I gained during this time helped prepare me for the many challenges I face daily in the practice of law. For example, participating in the honours program, taking a Directed Studies course, attending psychology conferences and working as a research assistant.

The honours program at TRU provides an excellent foundation for the development of relevant research and professional skills. This program allowed me to work one-on-one with a psychology faculty member to design my very own honours thesis research project. The experience of collecting and analyzing data, as well as sharing original research findings with others in the scientific community, was an exciting opportunity. This research experience prepared me for the effort I would require to complete law school. The Directed Studies course allowed me to gather, run and analyze data collected for experiments I had designed.

The professors were more then willing to make time for my ideas and thoughts on varied aspects of the studies I was involved with. This strengthened my confidence. It strengthened my ability to analyze. It strengthened my ability to have a conversation about the results that were obtained and to understand possibilities of why those specific results occurred.

Employment as a research assistant taught me to interpret data and how results should be entered into the various computer programs designed to analyze data. This process allowed for collaboration with other students in which a solid support system evolved.

I attended conferences in Vancouver, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston. I was a presenter at the Chicago conference. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of these conferences, as they were a great way to get involved in real-life psychology while getting to know student and professors from elsewhere. There were many opportunities to attend symposiums and talks from very gifted and well-known academics from the psychology world. It was a great way to gain different perspective while at the same time networking with others from around the world.

I would recommend any of the above to students. Become involved. Expand your opportunities. Carpe Diem.

Christina Phillips
The honours program at TRU provides an excellent foundation for the development of relevant research and professional skills. Christina Phillips

Tyla Charbonneau

Graduated in 2011 with a Master of Science

What are you doing now?

I am currently working on my PhD in counselling psychology at the University of Calgary. My research challenges the notion of the physical spaces in which we conduct therapy. I am looking at the wellness outcomes of engaging in therapeutic conversations outdoors in parks and natural areas as opposed to office spaces. Employment-wise I am a provisional psychologist in Alberta and specialize in mental health and trauma. I also teach at Bow Valley College and am the editorial assistant at the peer reviewed Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy.

How did TRU help you get into grad school, find employment, etc.?

I found it was the faculty and staff that was most helpful. The academic advisor helped me find and integrate courses I needed to go to graduate school that TRU did not offer. I also felt supported and encouraged by my amazing honours supervisor Dr. Catherine Ortner. Even now I know that I can still email any of the faculty for help in the academic and psychology world. For example, several professors were incredibly helpful with gaining my registration by providing information about some of the courses I took.

TRU's emphasis on research was an integral aspect of acceptance into graduate school. The required advanced research class was an asset for getting in to grad school. It provided a foundation to further research education and studies and was a requirement to gain registration as a psychologist.

What did you enjoy about TRU? What did you do while at TRU?

I made an incredible group of friends at TRU with whom I am still in contact. This group was essential to my well-being in the program. I enjoyed my honours experience as it was my first real taste of research. I appreciated the mentorship I received in the honours program. In particular, I appreciated the independence I felt to create a project that fit my interests and allowed me to expand my knowledge base in quantitative research.

This was a supervision relationship that I relay on as a model for the relationships I now build with people who I supervise and teach. I also participated in a directed study through the anthropology program that provided me with an opportunity to engage in qualitative research via participation in a six-week trip to the Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This was an incredible experience and I would recommend it (or any educational travel opportunity to anyone).

If current students have questions about their program or university would you be willing to be contacted?

Sure! The best email would be tkcharbo@ucalgary.ca

Tyla Charbonneau
I appreciated the independence I felt to create a project that fit my interests and allowed me to expand my knowledge base in quantitative research. Tyla Charbonneau

Amanda Oldring

Graduated in 2007 with a double major in psychology (honours) and English

What are you doing now?

I am an Internet technology and communications consultant in Vancouver, and am currently finishing my master's degree in communication at Simon Fraser University. My master's thesis specializes in social network analysis of disaster early warning networks in Twitter. I am also a research assistant for a study on end-to-end tsunami notification in the province of British Columbia, and at SFU's GeNA: Genomics and Networks Analysis Lab, where I lend my quantitative skill-set to tackle topics related to big data, social media and public health.

Recently I've presented my work at the Social Media and Society Conference at Dalhousie University in Halifax (2013) and again at Ryerson University in Toronto (2014), and have published some of my work in my cchool's graduate journal, Stream.

How did TRU help you get into grad school, find employment, etc.?

The critical thinking skills and research ability that I gained during my time at TRU, particularly in the honours program, set the foundation for my current academic and vocational success.

The opportunities I had to develop my writing and presentation skills, and to work one-on-one with faculty and peers doing unique and high-responsibility projects through service learning and the honours program were invaluable. In particular, my statistics foundation from the psychology department has helped me in graduate school, as it enabled me to learn advanced methodologies that are outside the scope of my department and successfully apply them to my research.

Vocationally, the analytical and organizational skills I gained through completing my degree have enabled me to excel at cross-disciplinary work within the general humanities. No matter where I go, I am valued for my objectivity, my ability to solve problems quickly and my ability to communicate solutions to diverse audiences. These are skills I learned and grew at TRU's psychology department.

What did you enjoy about TRU? What did you do while at TRU?

I was one of two student organizers for the first annual TRU Undergraduate Conference, an event which was considered wildly successful and became a mainstay of the university. I designed the original website and program, and helped set a precedent for future conferences. I was a student presenter at that same conference in its second year. I also attended the Western Psychological Association conference in Vancouver and the Midwestern Psychological Association Conference in Chicago, the latter of which I presented my honours research on stress and attributes related to learned helplessness.

I even had a bit of social activism to thrown into the mix by initiating and participating in an anti-ageism campaign on campus. As for enjoyment — I enjoyed my entire experience! The people, the courses, the faculty, all of it. I've made great friends that I am still in touch with today, and the amazing and in-depth feedback I received from my instructors would be impossible at a larger institution.

When I first started a TRU, I was a bit of a "diamond in the rough." It was through the challenges, attention and genuine time and interest that my instructors provided me in courses and during their office hours that shaped me into the determined academic and vibrant entrepreneur I am today.

If current students have questions about their program/university would you be willing to be contacted?

Absolutely.

Anything else you wish to tell us?

You guys have it great at TRU, and your degree will end before you know it! It's true that you get what you give from university, so throw yourself into every moment to really reap the benefits. And I mean that academically as well as socially! When the going gets tough, and it certainly does, just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you'll accomplish things you never even dreamed were possible. When it's all said and done, you'll look back and see how far you've come and how much you've gained and feel amazing for it.

Amanda Oldring
I enjoyed my entire experience! The people, the courses, the faculty, all of it. Amanda Oldring

Krystle Lawson

The psychology department at TRU literally was the reason I do what I do now and I am so grateful I was a student there! I had such a rich experience at a small university and was so lucky to be an individual at a school where the professors took such an interest in developing passion in students.

For me, I left with an inspiration to work in mental health. After I graduated from TRU, I became an RN. I took the fast-tracked nursing program at the University of Calgary and am currently living in Calgary. I work in forensic psychiatry. I am a forensic outreach nurse and I transition clients who are court-mandated to see me out of either jail or the forensic hospital here, with a wide range of criminal histories, back into the community. All my clients have a mental illness, usually psychosis of some kind, and are homeless. I go to them in the community and assist them in attending appointments, managing medication, ensuring they see a psychiatrist or GP if necessary, and generally help them manage their lives. This often entails that I get creative, and need knowledge about mental health, the legal system and neurophysiology that I definitely did not learn in my nursing degree.

The TRU psychology department created a desire for continued education that has been immensely helpful in being self-motivated to educate myself in a position that is incredibly autonomous. I have had to become familiar with the legal system, of course, and have attended court on numerous occasions to obtain apprehension orders for clients who are too ill to organize themselves enough to make it to an appointment. I also work very closely with Calgary Police Services in order to keep myself safe, and to assist clients when I believe they are too ill or too dangerous to remain in the community and need to go to the hospital immediately. My clients live in a variety of situations, from shelters, to camping, to makeshift accommodations.

Mostly, my job is about advocacy and collaboration, but without the knowledge instilled in me by TRU, I would not be able to have gained the respect of other professionals in order to advocate appropriately for my clients. I have developed working relationships with the mental health community in Calgary and I have had great successes! I work for Alberta Health Services, but specifically, Forensic Assessment and Outpatient Services for three years now. I chair the outreach committee for Calgary and teach court-mandated Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Anger Management, and Family Violence Therapy. We are working to implement a Cognitive Behavioral Social Skills Training group at the moment as well.

It is a very interesting job and I love what I do! Additionally, I am studying for the MCAT and plan to apply to medical school for the 2016 year. Hopefully, I get in, but if not, I am going to apply to a master's program in nursing or clinical psychology.

Truly, I cannot thank the TRU psychology department and faculty enough for setting me on this path. And for offering a Forensic Psychology/Psych and the Law class! It was truly that class, combined with the passion for neurophysiology inspired by Dr. Hallonquist that is why I am in this position.

Krystle Lawson
The TRU psychology department created a desire for continued education that has been immensely helpful in being self-motivated to educate myself in a position that is incredibly autonomous. Krystle Lawson

More testimonials

Click on the students' names to find out how they enjoyed their time at TRU and where life has taken them since graduating.