Q&A with UM Psychology Professor Aimee Var

Kathy DeanFaculty Q&A, News, Sciences

When Aimee Var was an undergraduate student majoring in psychology and minoring in Spanish and English, she wanted to become a researcher in linguistics. But over time, she became more interested in the applied side of psychology – especially after moving back to her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, and starting a job at what was then known as the Mobile Mental Health Center. There, her path changed, and an interest in linguistics became a passion for making a positive impact through counseling and mental health services.

Today, as associate professor of psychology at the University of Mobile, Dr. Aimee Var helps students find their own path in the field she loves to teach.

Q: How did your job at Mobile Mental Health Center, now AltaPointe, change the direction of your life?

 A: In my job as a case manager, I saw the negative impacts that lack of access and resources created in the lives of the students I worked with. With some great mentoring from colleagues, I continued on to a master’s degree in clinical mental health (community) counseling and then an integrated clinical/counseling psychology doctoral program. During and between my times as a graduate student, I worked with people who do not have equitable access to mental health services, including homeless adults and children who lived in public housing.

Q: Psychology is a popular major at the University of Mobile. What is your favorite class to teach?

A: I teach Theories of Personality, Abnormal Psychology, Human Growth and Development, Introduction to Counseling, Multicultural Counseling, Psychology of Happiness, and Graduate School Seminar. Although I enjoy all of my courses for different reasons, my absolute favorite class to teach is Abnormal Psychology. In this course, I get to talk about a subject that is at the heart of my doctoral training, my professional experience as a counselor, and many students’ desire to study psychology. I find that students have so many questions and thoughts about mental health disorders, which makes the course fun to teach!

Q: Beyond your professional area of expertise, what are you passionate about?

A: I have so many hobbies and interests that sometimes it is hard to keep up with everything. My students who take my Happiness course know that my top strength on the Values in Action (VIA) Character Strengths survey is creativity, which means that I like to be an “outside of the box” thinker and that I teach myself new things just for fun. That being said, I have a couple of hobbies that I consistently enjoy, like singing and reading.

Q: We call the Christian college experience at UM “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose.” What does that mean to you?

A: The answer is simple: God has a calling for each one of His creations. In order to find God’s purpose for us, we have to open our minds and hearts to God’s voice speaking to us, whether that be through the mentors we have in our lives, our friends and colleagues, or experiences that we have through life. College is one of the many times that we will be exposed to all three of these things, while also learning and having fun, of course!