Tayla Lee
Tayla Lee

Tayla T.C. Lee is determined to provide high-impact educational experiences that will change the lives of her students and the people they may help after graduation.

The assistant professor of Psychological Science also identifies herself as a Hoosier intent on giving back to the people of her native state.

As a first-generation college student who earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology, Lee appreciates that many Ball State students are also first generation.

Lee knew she wanted to continue her education after college but, in hindsight, realized, “I didn’t understand a lot about how graduate education worked.”

She strives to provide a clearer path for her students. Among her priorities, Lee sets the goal for her master’s degree candidates to show a proven ability to execute the research process.

Since 2015, she has guided students through studies conducted through the Personality and Psychopathology (P2) Lab, which she directs. The lab investigates personality and cognitive influences on mental disorders and how to best assess these influences in clinical practice. The goal is to improve treatment for people experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties.

While her students may not choose to do research post-graduation, they develop skills in the lab—such as time and resource management, critical thinking, and effective communication—that will serve them well, Lee explained.

“Those are the kinds of skills employers are looking for,” she said.

Taking students outside of the lab setting, Lee partnered with Janay Sander, associate professor of Educational Psychology, on a community research project aimed at helping at-risk youth served by the Youth Opportunity Center (YOC) in Muncie.

Working with YOC’s clinical services team, “we’ve already helped to revamp some of their clinical processes,” Lee said.

The essential lesson from her face-to-face work is personalization. “When we sit and get to know the kid in front of us, the work we do is much more effective in helping us help them and their families.”

Lee plans to continue providing educational experiences that empower her students to positively impact lives in Indiana and communities like Muncie.

“I’m hopeful that Ball State will continue to serve the needs of Indiana in terms of turning out young adults who make a difference,” she said. — Susan DeGrane