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Lijia W

- Research Program Mentor

EdM at University of Massachusetts Amherst


School psychology, general psychology, creative writing


I'm currently a school psychologist working at high schools in San Francisco Unified School District. Most people aren't aware what school psychologists do, but it's basically my job to collaborate with students, families, school staff, and district staff to ensure we're serving our communities equitably and supporting students to flourish academically, socially, and emotionally. It's a tall order, but someone has to do it! Psychology is a broad field, and my research interests tend to reflect that. I've dabbled in everything from theoretical topics (ex. does owning a pet as a child increase your empathy as an adult?) to applied research to address real-world systemic issues (ex. gathering performance data in juvenile detention centers before and after training teachers in trauma-informed practices). In graduate school, my research focus involved analyzing ways to increase access to mental health care by raising awareness and dismantling stigma in communities of color. Outside of psychology, I am also a fantasy novelist, professional fine artist, dancer, martial artist, actor, independent filmmaker, and expert cat petter.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Applied Psychology Practice

Contrary to popular opinion, psychologists don't spend most of their days psychoanalyzing peoples' dreams and telling them they have Oedipus complexes (most of us don't trust Freud). However, we do a fair amount of interviewing, counseling, standardized assessments to gather data, progress monitoring, data analysis, designing personalized intervention plans, psychoeducation, consultation, report writing, and educating ourselves on the latest research. If you're curious about trying any of these things, let's talk!

Community/Applied Psychology Research

"Don't find fault, find a remedy"- Henry Ford Do you see a problem in the real world affecting the people around you? Many of these problems can be tackled through applied psychology research. It all starts with an identified problem and leads to problem analysis, analysis of potential solutions, implementation of solutions, progress monitoring, evaluation of results (and maybe going back to the drawing board if it didn't work). We can at least start to tackle issues as narrow as an individual's paralyzing anxiety whenever they leave their home or parents struggling to control their rambunctious child, to major issues like systemic racism in schools and high teen suicide rates.

Theoretical Psychology Research

How does your biology and environment shape your brain, which affects your behavior, which then influences your environment? How can you manipulate these influences to interrupt that cycle and take control? A lot of theoretical psychology research delves into why we are the way we are and potentially, how to change that. Once you have a question, the next step is always to read more to learn what people have figured out already, and sometimes that's all you need to write a beautiful literature review with all the answers. If you still have questions, we narrow that question into a testable hypothesis that you can then, wait for it... test! Like all sciences, we use the scientific method to gather data that either provide evidence for or against our hypotheses and then write up results in a paper to share your findings with the rest of the world (hopefully)!

Languages I know

English, Mandarin Chinese (conversational)

Teaching experience

Since high school I've taken on mentoring and teaching positions to support underserved communities, which has led to a wide variety of related experiences. In my undergraduate career, this included my time as a writing tutor for the Oxford College Writing Center, mentor for Spanish-speaking children at PATH project, student mentor at the Center for the Visually Impaired, and Biology lab teaching assistant at Oxford College. Since graduating Emory University, I've served as a City Year Americorps member (academic intervention and whole-school support in underserved communities), behavior modification specialist/art teacher at Camp STAR for children with ADHD and related disorders, lead instructor at Camp Galileo, an art teacher at Young Art, mentor teacher/consultant for high schoolers teaching English abroad at Chinaway, and parent and pre-service teacher training facilitator for school psychology research groups. My training and work as a school psychologist have also equipped me to collaborate with any individual to personalize their learning.


Work experience

San Francisco Unified School District (2020 - Current)
School Psychologist
University of Massachusetts Amherst (2017 - 2019)
Graduate Student Researcher


Emory University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2016)
Psychology and Visual Arts
University of Massachusetts Amherst
EdM Master of Education (2020)
School Psychology
University of Massachusetts Amherst
EdM Master of Education
School Psychology

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