Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

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Sarah Taniyama

Q & A session with Sarah Taniyama, a Master of Science in psychology student preparing to graduate Spring 2016.


Where are you originally from? Where did you complete your undergraduate education?

I am originally from San Diego. I completed my undergraduate education at San Jose State University. 


What made you select Cal Poly, SLO? Had you been to the campus or area previously?

I chose Cal Poly because I visited here during my undergraduate career and thought it was such a beautiful town, and everyone was so friendly. As for the graduate program, I felt honored to get in knowing how competitive it was. 


What has been your favorite part of living in San Luis Obispo or the area? Least favorite?

My favorite part about living in San Luis Obispo is the abundance of outdoor activities. Even though I grew up in beautiful San Diego, I never really took advantage of all of the fun water sports and hiking. When I moved to SLO, I finally started to engage in things like paddle boarding, hiking, kayaking, and just enjoying the outdoors. My least favorite part is probably the seasonal allergies!


Tell us about your experience in the Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) program. What is the most important thing you have learned and why?

My experience in the MFT program has been great; I loved having a small cohort and feeling close to my classmates, but also feeling that individual attention from the professors. The most important thing I learned is that there is no such thing as “perfect” in this field. I came in as a Type A, perfectionistic overachiever and came out accepting that I will make mistakes and there will be times when I don't have the answer, and that is OK. 


What has been the most challenging part of the MFT program for you?

The most challenging part of the program for me was adjusting to the quarter system. I came from a school on the semester system and going to quarters was difficult, but especially during graduate school. Everything moves so fast, and there is so much more I want to learn and absorb, but there just isn't time for it! 


What do you plan to do next in terms of education and/or career?

I am currently working in Santa Maria as a child therapist for Child Abuse Listening Mediation (CALM), but my next professional move will take me down to Los Angeles. I hope to work with children and teens who have experienced trauma. 


What do you like to do for fun in your spare time?

I spend most of my spare time with my dog Sarge. He is my pride and joy! My fiancé, Sarge and I love to hike and exercise. 


What advice would you give to a prospective graduate student in psychology?

My advice would be to utilize the professors here as much as you can. There are some amazing minds at work in this program, and if you find your interests match one of theirs, engage them; they are a great tool. Also...don't live near the'll never sleep! 


Tell us something about you that few people know.

Something about me few people know is that I actually had fully planned on going to law school, and had my mind made up to be a lawyer until my first college psychology class, and that is when everything changed. 


Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 20? 30???

Where do I see myself in 10 years...Personally, I hopefully have had all my wonderful children by then; I am married and living in Los Angeles. Professionally, I hope to continue working with teens, and possibly have my own private practice by then. I also aspire to write a book. I love writing and could see myself writing a book someday.


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