As a student-centric university, Brandman is dedicated to building a strong culture of support for its students and community members. Our academic advising team is a primary part of the many ways we ensure that students are provided the help they need to transition into their educational careers and achieve long-term success. Lynda Snyder has personally witnessed this support system and thanks her experience with faculty and staff as she moves forward on the path to graduation.
Like many adult students, Lynda Snyder returned to school after taking some time to focus on raising and supporting her family. She knew at an early age that she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives by guiding them through challenging times, and when the time came she set off to find a master’s degree in psychology that would help her achieve her dreams. She was drawn to Brandman University and its marriage and family therapy program in large part because she found that practicing therapists were teaching the classes, not just educators. This scholar-practitioner model gave her the confidence of knowing that expert knowledge was built into her program which to her was, “an important piece to the learning process.”
Just as life tends to throw at us, Snyder faced a curve ball that in most cases may have had the potential of knocking a student off course. After checking off so many classes that were mapped out on her education plan by her dedicated advisor Patti Popovich, Snyder found out she needed to schedule a major surgery in the middle of a two class quarter. She had come so far, and was not going to let this situation become a roadblock but would do everything she could to push through while maintaining her personal standards for high performance.
To prepare for the road of recovery ahead, she went to her advisors for help and asked about her options under the Americans with Disabilities Act. “I made sure I did my part to get as far as I could before surgery,” she said. She asked for resources like voice recordings of her professors’ instruction and peer discussions which were gladly provided with the support of her local staff at Brandman’s Santa Maria, California, campus. “They jumped through hoops to make it happen,” said Snyder.
In addition to the audio materials, she thanks her professors Dr. Browne and Dr. Taylor for working with her on due dates for assignments. She was still required to complete everything outlined in the syllabai, but they were able to modify some requirements in order for her to keep up and finish each course on schedule. “I made it happen, but I couldn’t have done so without the constant support and willingness of faculty and staff to work with me to get everything done.”
In addition to her Brandman community, Snyder appreciated the support of her very strong group of friends and family members. Her sister-in-law, Peggy, flew out from New York to take care of her for eight days after the surgery, and her friends were amazing, bringing her food and helping her with the housework. The time she spent with Peggy was particularly special. It was true quality time, rather than the hustle and bustle of popular Christmas visits, and was more than she had spent with her in the decades they have been family.
Snyder is not only an inspiring person, but also is proud to be a mover and a shaker for her fellow peers. Brandman’s Office of Disability Services continues to look for ways to enhance their service to students who need assistance through their academic careers. Dr. Loren O’Connor, director of the division, checked in with Snyder, even after the tough time had passed. They communicated consistently through email and as she described, “he was very encouraging, and helped to support my supporters in Santa Maria.” This system meant a lot to Snyder, and in turn, the relationship was invaluable to the Office of Disability Services. The staff told her after she came back to full attendance that they appreciated the fact that she asked for something they didn’t have before, and thanked her for helping them understand the needs of students to expand the services provided.
She gave them what any educator is proud to provide – opportunities to think out-of-the-box and help others grow. “I feel like I’m a navigator for change,” Snyder says. “I seem to be able to be a good catalyst, and I’m hopeful now that will translate into my practice.”
Another great example of how Snyder has helped inspire change to benefit her fellow peers translates directly to her academic program. Each student in the Master of Arts in Psychology, Marriage and Family Therapy degree is required to complete his or her practicum in order to qualify for graduation. In constant efforts to support each student, faculty members try to recommend pathways for their students to finish this part of their program, but there was yet to be a centralized resource to reference opportunities. Today, as Snyder enters her final course before venturing into her practicum, she is proud to have been able to help make this much needed resource a reality. A growing list is now available on the school’s My Brandman portal to allow psychology students to research their options to complete this important part of the program.
Snyder is a perfect example of being a lifelong learner and hopes to take continuing education classes even after she completes her degree. She wants to work as a grief counselor to help support others through difficult times and has a particular interest in working with our nation’s veterans. Her personal and professional experiences have shaped how she has coped with different losses and hardships, while they taught her the significance of supporting others in a time of need. “I think that it’s really important, especially as we get older and start to lose people. I know the feelings of pain, but I also know that you can survive and thrive. Individuals just need the right guidance and stamina to do that.”
Her education has not only provided the knowledge to help her move forward in her career, but has also provided some great opportunities for her to contribute to her community. She wrote papers on critical topics such as coping with suicide and even presented to police officers in San Luis Obispo County during their Crisis Intervention Team Training to educate them on the effective ways to communicate with victims’ family members during critical traumatic moments.
As she enters the final stretch of her academic career, she reflects on all of the great support her Brandman faculty, advisors and staff members have given her. She is confident and positive when imagining her future as she explains, “Now I get to share with others how to be strong, how to stand up and not be afraid to move forward. All of my professors say I’m going to make a great therapist.” We couldn’t agree more.