Faculty Spotlight: Meeting New Assistant Professor Kristine Molina

Faculty Spotlight: Meeting New Assistant Professor Kristine Molina

Meet Assistant Professor Kristine Molina

Q: What about growing up in Miami had the greatest impact on your life?

A: The type of racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity that Miami had to offer. The Latino community in Miami is quite heterogeneous. I also attended public schools in Miami that were diverse and exposed me to Afro-Caribbean, African-American and various Latino cultures. This allowed me to relate to people with different backgrounds once I left Miami.


Q: Why did you choose to attend Smith College for your undergraduate education?

A: I wanted to challenge myself academically. I wanted to be in a smaller environment and take advantage of the benefits of mentorship. In high school, I was part of an Upward Bound program that focused on Math and Science. Some of my mentors in this program attended Smith College and encouraged me to apply. There was a very strong support system in this program and I am actually the first from this program to get a PhD.


Q: Who most inspired you while you were at Smith College?

A: There were two individuals. First, is my faculty advisor. She was passionate about research and committed to getting undergraduates involved in research. Second, was a new assistant professor at the time. She was the first graduate of the joint Psychology and Women’s Studies doctoral program at the University of Michigan and was the only woman of color faculty member in the Psychology Department at Smith College. Like my faculty advisor, she always made time for me and I could relate to her on a personal level.


Q: Why did you major in Psychology at Smith College?

A: I took a clinical psychology course and I had to write a paper for the course. I did very well on the paper and the feedback from the professor informed my decision to choose Psychology as a major. I felt this was an area in which I could be successful. Also, at the end of my sophomore year, I took an experimental psychology course. We had a do a research project for this course and I actually presented the project at a professional conference. It was exciting to follow a project from its genesis to completion.


Q: What made you choose the University of Michigan for graduate school?

A: Three of my professors in the Psychology Department at Smith College attended the University of Michigan for graduate school and encouraged me to apply. In addition, I wanted a school that would provide me the resources to conduct the type of research in which I was going to engage. Once I got accepted to the program and visited, I met with members of the Latino Student Psychological Association. I felt there was going to be a community there for me. Also they had a joint Psychology and Women Studies program that was attractive to me, given my interdisciplinary research interests.


Q: How did you feel when the Ohio State Buckeyes crushed the Michigan Wolverines in football during your time at the University of Michigan.

A: I never went to a game or paid attention to the football team.


Q: What advice would you give to a graduate student for succeeding in a graduate program?

A: Seek mentors that will empower you and allow you to grow academically and personally. Take advantage of opportunities and resources. Apply for scholarships or fellowships as much as possible. Too often students are afraid of failure. Learn how to take feedback and do not let fear guide your decisions.


Q: You are from Miami, Evelyn Behar is from Miami and Stellan Ohlsson is from the Miami-section of Sweden. Can we expect the three of you to perform at this year’s holiday party with some Miami-style music?

A: Maybe. Does that count as service?


Q: What have you enjoyed most so far being in Chicago?

A: I feel a sense of belonging in the city. People are very friendly in Chicago.