Kayla Moorer

kayla moorer graduate student counseling psychologyDescribe yourself…

I’d like to describe myself as an outgoing, fun-loving individual that is determined to make the most out of life. While graduate school may impose on the fun-loving part, I strive to seek out the beauty amidst the chaos and enjoy the ride.

I choose to pursue a doctoral degree in Counseling Psychology at Southern Miss because…

As a first generation college student, graduate school was not in my vocabulary when I began undergrad.  Interestingly, Southern Miss is also my undergraduate alma mater, and I was fortunate that numerous faculty members helped shape my academic career.  It was through the encouragement and mentorship I received from Dr. Larry Sparkman, Dr. Susan Bourland, and Dr. Michael Madson that I chose to pursue a graduate degree.  Fostering relationships with and seeking support from these faculty members introduced me to opportunities that paved the way to graduate school.  Further, I have always been intrigued by human resiliency and have a passion to pursue a career as a Counseling Psychologist, where I can assist others in overcoming obstacles and reaching their full potential.       

What kinds of research do you do?

My undergraduate thesis explored female college alcohol use, their expectations towards alcohol, and their use of protective behavioral strategies.  This made me aware of the dangers present among female college drinkers. Specifically, I learned that college women are drinking more like men these days, and that their drinking behaviors place them at risk for a host of negative consequences.  Females tend to report personal consequences from drinking, such as being victim of a sexual assault.  Thus, my current research examines which protective behavioral strategies might be most influential in preventing unwanted sexual experiences among college female drinkers. 

Talk about the award that you won…

Recently, I received the Graduate Student Research on Minorities and Women award, sponsored by the Committee on Equality of Professional Opportunity (CEPO; a subcommittee of the Southeastern Psychological Association).  Papers were judged based on “excellence in research design, relevance, importance, style, and innovation.”  I will get to orally present my master’s thesis entitled, “Alcohol Consumption and Unwanted Sexual Experiences Among College Females: The Mediating Role of Protective Behavioral Strategies” at the 2013 SEPA Convention. 

What are the next steps in your research? What goals do you hope to accomplish?

Currently I am searching for potential journals to submit “Alcohol Consumption and Unwanted Sexual Experiences Among College Females: The Mediating Role of Protective Behavioral Strategies.”  After defending my master’s thesis this semester, I plan to submit the paper for publication.  For my dissertation, I plan to continue my research by looking at other factors influencing unwanted sexual experiences among college female drinkers. 

Why is research important to your training?

Research is essential to my training because it informs my interactions with clients.  I am able to utilize the knowledge I gain from research by implementing evidence-based techniques with my clients.  As a counselor for the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) program, I am able to see firsthand how research informs practice, and vice versa. 

My career goals include…

Having the opportunity to teach an undergraduate course has sparked an interest in pursuing a career in academia.  Working with female substance abusers in a residential facility is still a potential career goal; however, I have a growing desire to return the mentoring I was fortunate to receive.

What is one piece of advice you would give to undergraduate students considering graduate school?

Talk to people who have been there. Be inquisitive. Seek as much out as you can about the ups and downs of graduate school. Ask professors, but more importantly, ask the graduate students- they are filled with experiences that may help your decision. Graduate school really is not for everyone, and you have to be open to the challenge of lifelong learning.


Kayla Moorer is a doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program and a member of the Southern Miss College Alcohol Research Team.