Jennifer Houston

Degree: Ph.D. in Psychology: Industrial-Organizational Psychology

College: School of Integrated Science & Humanity in the College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Jennifer Houston, a third generation FIU Panther, is a proud adjunct in the psychology department at FIU. She is also someone who went from a GED to a Ph.D., despite significant challenges.

When she was 8, Jennifer’s parents divorced, and she and her mother became homeless and lived out of their car. Jennifer cherished her time at school, both because of her early interest in academics and because school offered her running water, electricity and a meal each day.

At 13, the bullying began, and Jennifer suffered her first panic attack. Shortly after, she was placed in a hospital homebound program. Her anxiety and agoraphobia were so severe that she was unable to leave the house.

She dropped out of school but her passion for education motivated her to never give up. She earned her GED and took the SAT, and at 17, she started at FIU and eventually graduated Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in psychology. She was also a Ronald E. McNair fellow.

Jennifer has never let anything stand in her way. In 2011, she returned to FIU to earn a Ph.D. in Industrial Organization Psychology. Her research combines work from cognitive psychology and industrial-organizational psychology to examine how traumatic events affect employees’ memories of the workplace. 

Jennifer wants to take what she’s learned and overcome to help people like her make the transition into the next phase in their life and navigate the workforce while still addressing mental health issues from their past. This fall, she will begin FIU's master's degree program in clinical mental health counseling.

By Christine Calvo
Junior Account Manager
College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Nominated by Bennett Schwartz