College and Career Diaries: Psychology



Hello lovelies,

I am back at it today with another College and Career Diaries.

Today’s feature is someone who I feel blessed to have been able to communicate with.

With her extremely busy schedule, she took the time to answer some questions about her profession and field in psychology.

Some of you may know her as the YouTube sensation “BeautifulBrwnBabyDol”.

However, her real name is Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey.

Dr. Nina received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Truman State University. She then furthered her education and received a M.S. and Ph.D from  Oklahoma State University in 2011.

Ellis-Hervey has a plethora of accolades and distinguishing post-nominals. She has a Ph.D, is a licensed psychologist/licensed specialist in school psychology, nationally certified school psychologist, nationally certified professional life coach and is en route to become a certified personal trainer.

When it comes to her current occupation, Dr. Nina is a jack of all trades master of ALL.

She currently works as an Assistant Professor of School Psychology at Stephen F. Austin State University. Moreover, at the same university she is a School Psychology Assessment Center Director and L.S.S.P. Consultant.

Dr. Nina also has a plethora of psychological publications under her belt. I will leave them at the bottom of this post.

If you want to learn more about psychology and what it is like being a woman in psychology keep reading. Dr. Nina shares all.

 What does the job of a school psychologist entail?

My definition of a school psychologist is a bit broad as I am also a licensed psychologist. School Psychologists can be at the level of a Master’s or Specialist or a Ph.D.  At the Master’s level, school psychologists work in the schools and work as team members or heads of teams to support teachers and families with helping children be successful.  In a nut shell, they apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.

At the Doctoral level, you find school psychologists in many arenas as they have been trained clinically as well. They are fully operating psychologists, if in the schools they are often administrative.  They may also be found in hospitals, universities, clinics and private practice, not only working with children, but clients/patients of all ages.

Is graduate school necessary?

Yes, graduate school is necessary. If you are wanting to operate outside of a school a Ph.D. is also necessary.  You must also complete a pre-doctoral internship and a post-doctoral internship.

How can someone prepare in undergrad for graduate school?

Take the time to feel out the field if you want to be successful.  Plan early!  Join groups and get a strong mentor.  My mentor in the past was a child clinical psychologist and helped me learn what I wanted to do.  I was able to see his daily grind as a professor and having a successful private practice.  Psychology to that degree is not for everyone, and the more exposure you get early the better so you know what’s best for you. Also keep your eye on programs, preferably those with American Psychological Association Accreditation.

What is a common misconception about psychologists or psychology majors?

I think often we are viewed as people who will be able to help everyone with everything. However, the profession has so many areas of specialty and no one psychologist knows it all.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a counselor?

It is important to know that psychologists and counselors are both mental health practitioners. Both must hold a state license. Counselors have master’s level education, though their master’s programs are longer than those in many fields. Psychologists have training at the doctoral level. It takes a doctoral degree to sit down and work one on one with clients as a clinical, counseling or doctoral level school psychologist.  Counselors and psychologists often have overlapping duties.  Psychologists are more likely to work with individuals with serious mental illness. They are trained to perform psychotherapy with a range of clients, but in many settings, general therapy roles will go primarily to counselors and other master’s level mental health practitioners.  Psychologists who are in private practice can choose to focus on counseling however. Psychologist’s in practice typically administer a wide range of tests including IQ tests and tests of neurological function.  However, counselors are much more limited in the tests they can perform.

What were/are some challenges or obstacles you face as a black woman working in the field of psychology?

Psychology is a white male dominated field, especially at the doc level. I didn’t and still don’t often see people who look like me that are very successful in the field.  For that reason I have learned to BE the example.  I had to grow up fast in the profession and served as a mentor to others who were like me early in the game.  I had to really find the right mentor for me and she is an amazing Black, counseling psychologist.  I made sacrifices.  I often felt I had to study harder, be stronger and even sharper.  I worked 4 jobs through graduate school and my GPA never fell below a 3.8.  I stayed focused and determined though I didn’t have many models like me around.

Can you elaborate on what your study with black women and hair was all about?

The study encompassed many things. One of my areas of study is self esteem, and more specifically in women of color.  Not to just give the abstract but it was perfect to explain.

A great amount of literature is dedicated to racial identity and self-perception, but very little addresses how hair may play a critical role in how African American women view themselves and others. African American women choose to wear their hair in a variety of styles, including weaves, wigs, dreads, chemically processed, or non-chemically processed (often referred to as “natural hair”). Researchers conducted a study that explored 282 African American females from urban and rural communities, varying in age, socio-economic status, and education levels and discussed the reporting of the hairstyles they currently wear, what styles they believe are more attractive/unattractive, what styles they believe are more professional/unprofessional, and what influenced the style they currently wear. In addition, these women completed the Rotter’s Locus of Control and Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scales. Regression analyses indicated there was a slight but significant positive correlation between a higher internal locus of control and those who choose to wear their hair in a natural state; however, the regression showed no statistically significant predictive value for hair selection. A discussion of the psychological implications for the findings, thoughts of self-perception, and how these findings can be used for future practice is addressed.


In a nutshell what was the outcome/result of the study?

The interesting thing is that we found that people who chose natural styles often valued their own opinions, thoughts and feelings about self. It takes one tough cookie to truly show the world who one I and be unapologetic!

How can you be competitive as a psychology major applying to graduate school?

I believe the best way is to plan your path early and stick with. I really did my research, became a McNair Scholar (  I received much help studying for entrance exams and studying the requirements of a program of interest.  It is never too early to ask questions.  Ask your professors about their past experiences and programs, research, look at national resources such as APA.  Learn more about current practices and make sure you are well versed on the programs that are at the top of your list.

Why is psychology so important to you?

I love the profession because it has been around many years and further, psychology shapes who and what we are and grow to be. If you are strong mentally you can face the world, be successful and quite resilient.  In essence I get to help people come into their own and improve their quality of life.

What do you love most about your job?

I love helping to mode new school psychologists and psychologist into great future practitioners. I love watching their minds explore the field, see them learn the ropes and become very successful in the field.

If you couldn’t be a psychologist what would you be?

I would still be a motivational speaker and a musician/performer. I love helping others, entertaining them, motivating them and seeing them grow.

Psychological Publications:

Ellis-Hervey, N., Doss, A., Davis, D. (2016).  [Review of the book: Implementation of Mental Health Programs in School: A Change Agents Guide, by S. Foreman].

Ellis-Hervey, N., Doss, A., Davis, D. (2016).  African American personal presentation:  Psychology of hair and self-perception.  Journal of Black Studies,, 1-14.

Ellis-Hervey, N., Steward, R., Doss, A., Nicks, R. Davis, D. (2016).  African American women and Self-esteem:  A study of the impact of age, family of origin, and current life circumstances.  Psych Discourse, 40, 2, 12-17.

Ellis-Hervey, N., Doss, A., Davis, D., Wilhite-Bradford, A. (2015).  The development of school psychology assessment centers: training, service delivery and research.  Journal of Human Services: Training, Research, and Practice: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 4. [Active Link February 4, 2016: or]

Alston, G., Ellis-Hervey, N. (2014).  Exploring public pedagogy and the non-formal adult educator in 21st century contexts using qualitative video data analysis techniques. Learning Media and Technology: Vol. 40, No. 4, 502–513 [DOI October 26, 2014: ]

Ellis-Hervey, N. (2014).  Resilience is the key. [Review of the book Schooling for Resilience: Improving the Life Trajectory of Black and Latino Boys, by E. Fergus, P. Noguera & M. Martin]. [Active Link:]

Ellis-Hervey, N. & Kallerud, R. (2007).  Portrayals of african american men on primetime television dramas. McNair Scholarly Review: Vol. 12. 4, 30-35.

A few under final preparation and review.