Meet Emily Adams

Photo of Emily Adams

Emily Adams, Graduate Student and MHTTC Project Coordinator

What does everyone call you?

Close friends and family call me Em, but professionally I prefer to be Emily. My nieces and nephews call me Auntie Em, which just makes me so happy. Most of them haven’t seen the Wizard of Oz yet. I can’t wait until they do.

Where did you work before you were here?

I am currently a student in the Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology PhD program at UNO. During my time there, I have held roles as a research assistant for the Nebraska Center for Justice Research investigating the environmental risk and protective factors for juvenile justice system involvement that are present in the Omaha area and as a teaching assistant for the Department of Psychology supporting the I/O area director.

Where did you work before that?

Between my master’s and PhD programs, I was a data analyst for a juvenile justice Collective Impact backbone organization. Prior to that role, I was an institutional research analyst at a community college. Before I earned my master’s, I served as a crisis counselor following a natural disaster in Nebraska.

How many years have you been doing what you do?

I’ve gotten my feet wet in a variety of fields, so that’s a tough question to answer. I got my BA in 2011, worked for a year, got my MS in 2014, worked for 3 years, returned to school full-time for the PhD, and here we are today – 2 years into that endeavor.

What was your favorite part about your previous jobs?

Despite the varied contexts in which I have worked, my jobs have always had the common components of being data-driven and people-oriented. I’m excited about using research and data to solve the challenges that individuals and organizations face in human services fields. I love adapting known solutions to fit new contexts.

What led you to this job?

My academic and professional pursuits have been somewhat of a long and winding road. With each step I’ve learned more about what I like and what I want in the next phase of my career. When I heard about BHECN and the MHTTC project, it seemed like a perfect fit between my past experiences and my future goals. The emphasis on using evidence-based practices speaks to my experience in (and passion for) research, which is what I want my career to be centered around. Although I am not a direct care provider, behavioral health is what attracted me to the field of psychology, and I am excited to work for an organization that strives to improve the opportunities and experiences of Nebraskans.

What makes you good at what you do?

I like to think my patience and willingness to listen help people feel comfortable. I think relationship building is an incredibly important aspect to business partnerships, and I want to be sure I understand the unique challenges people are facing when we work together.

Flashback to when you were ten years old. What do you want to be when you grow up?

As a ten year old, I probably still had aspirations of being a professional soccer player or ballerina. After the injuries set in and I got more practical about choosing a career, I always knew my future was in psychology because people fascinate me. In a field that produces more questions than answers, I was drawn to research to help chip away at those questions.

Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?

I never sneeze only once. This is hardly a skill, but something people notice when they’re around me regularly. I love baking and probably have 10 recipes for banana bread. Yes, I will bring some to the office sometime. I really love tea. I have probably 30 different kinds at home.

What is a career goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?

By May 2020, I hope to have earned a PhD! I’m a little nervous about publicizing that date, though, because I hear it can be a curse. (editors note: printed with fingers crossed!) At BHECN and with the MHTTC, I’d like to be fully integrated into the team and providing value by utilizing concepts and practices from I/O to help address challenges behavioral health providers are facing regarding attracting, developing, and retaining their staff. 

What is the last book you read/show you watched/something you can’t get enough of?

The Princess Bride – both the book and movie – never ceases to make me giggle uncontrollably. It never gets old. Also, Moana, which I can’t explain. I really, really, REALLY love the Great British Baking show.

What I can’t get enough of are my nieces and nephews. I have 9, ranging in age from 2 to 17. They are so much fun and make me laugh so hard.

What are some causes you care about?

I care about helping people have access to what they love. I want little kids to grow up seeing role models who are like them in the roles they aspire to. I also volunteer with adults who are learning English, which is a ton of fun!

Finish this sentence: On Sunday afternoons you can usually find me…

Frantically reading and preparing for the week’s classes. In the spring, however, hopefully, you will find me on the adorable porch swing at my new house… frantically reading and preparing for the week’s classes.

What is the first thing on your bucket list?

My husband and I achieved one of our bucket list items this summer when we visited Brazil. His family had an exchange student from Brazil in high school who we visited. She and her family very graciously traveled with us and showed us many parts of their beautiful country. It was an incredible experience, the highlights of which were a day at the incredible Iguazu Falls and the large quantities of homemade food the family shared with us.

Another bucket list item is earning a PhD. I’m well on my way, working hard, and looking forward to graduation day!

Someday, I’d like to be someone’s favorite supervisor. I may never know if it happens, but it would be an honor.

How do you want people to remember you?

I want to be remembered as being kind and committed to the people in my life.

Do you have a personal motto or a cool quote you live by?

By coincidence, I came across this quote when I was working on my MS in experimental psychology. It spoke to me because part of my identity is as an experimental psychologist, and I believe in the power of experiments for adding to our collective human knowledge. The full quote reminds me not to take things too seriously and to approach new experiences as opportunities to learn.

“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

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