STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Mary Kate Dykes
Mary Kate Dykes
STILLWATER – Cherokee Nation citizen Mary Kate Dykes recently won one of 30 awards from the Society of Pediatric Psychology, which will fund her travels to attend the SPP annual conference March 19-21 in Dallas.
Dykes is a junior at Oklahoma State University and a research assistant with the Pediatric Psychology Behavioral Health Lab. The SPP conference is her first national conference where she will present a research poster.
“Our lab studies the psychosocial adjustment challenges, such as depression, in children afflicted with chronic illnesses and their families,” she said. “The research conducted in our lab ultimately aims to understand the impact of having chronic illness on youths’ mental wellbeing. The poster I will be presenting at SPPAC examines the effects of illness-related stigma and distress experienced by parents or caregivers of youth with pediatric inflammatory bowel disease on the child's depressive symptoms.”
Dykes was raised in Morris and it was while attending high school there she first become interested in child psychology. When she decided to attend OSU, she said she was introduced to “the world of research in clinical psychology, specifically pediatrics” and it provided opportunities for her to learn more.
“This past summer I had the opportunity to participate in the American Indians Into Psychology program at OSU,” she said. “Created to prepare Native American psychology majors for graduate school, the AIIP program gave me additional research experience and allowed me to determine my ultimate plan of pursuing a graduate degree in clinical psychology to continue being involved in research.”
She said she’s also been able to connect with other Native psychology students through AIIP.
“Being Cherokee and pursuing psychology is meaningful to me because I am proud to represent the Cherokee Nation in a field where Indigenous communities are often underrepresented. Compared to other groups a small portion of psychologists are Native American. For this reason, it is important to me to increase Native American representation in clinical psychology through attending conferences, developing and presenting research, and achieving a graduate degree in the future,” she said.
After completing a bachelor’s degree, Dykes plans to obtain a Ph.D. in pediatric clinical psychology. “With this level of certification, I hope to turn my passion for pediatric psychology research into my lifelong career.”