Thursday, August 16, 2012

Allison Michl Bitz Receives Doctorate

Allison Michl Bitz grew up a small town girl in Exeter who, like many, headed to college unsure of her path.  Bitz, however, has found her path to be long and winding but with a great educational goal at the end.

Bitz graduated from Exeter High in 2001 and was involved in basketball and volleyball on the athletic side of things.  Academically she delved into the speech (where she won at State in Extemporaneous), one-act plays, quiz bowl, band and choir.

Out of high school she headed to UNL where a psychology class changed her coursework leading her to a double major in Psychology and Communication studies in 2005.

That didn’t seem to be enough, she kept pushing on earning her Master’s degree in Community Counseling in 2007 at UNL and entering their doctorate program.

Bitz was recently robed with her Doctorate in Counseling Psychology.  It hasn’t been an easy road for her.  Along the way she met and married her husband James Bitz, LPS teacher and also a photographer, and they have had two children, Evie, 4 and Jonah, 2.

And this has been the biggest challenge for Bitz through her schooling, “having kids as a female graduate student isn’t easy. Some people in academia don’t agree with it – they think you won’t take your education as seriously.  I had to work hard trying to be a good mom and trying to be a good student all the while trying to prove to faculty that I was capable of what I was doing.”

And her kids? “They made me better because they made my structure my life different – priorities different – I work harder at work and try not to work at home unless they are asleep,” explained Bitz

And she has been very successful, recently defending her dissertation which was titled, “Does rurality matter? The roles of social support, self-efficacy and well-being in first year college student adjustment.”

Bitz chose this topic in part to investigate her own roots, recalling that “academically I was fine, but socially not so much." She had also found very little existing literature on the experiences of rural students at college.
Her study's results found that rural and urban students adjust at similar levels but different things affect their adjustment in different ways, that rural students’ social support has a direct relationship with college adjustment.

And just like the students in her study, Bitz gives credit where credit is due, “having my parents and my husband and his family close made it possible for me to do this.”

With her families’ support and her degree in hand, Dr. Bitz has opened a private practice in Lincoln for adolescents older than 13 and adults who struggle with depression, anxiety, (deleted word "service") adjustment concerns (moving or new job, life transitions)  (deleted word "assessments") along with ADHD and personality assessments.

As part of her doctorate, Bitz completed a year-long internship at Creighton but still managed to connect with her roots in Exeter and visit her parents Alan and Shari Michl along with her grandparents in the area.

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