How did your journey start with the Department of Psychology?
I have all four of my degrees from U-M, so my journey started here when I was a teenager. I lived and worked at other places before returning here to teach, 28 years ago.
What does teaching in the Department mean to you?
It has been my great privilege to teach at one of the finest psychology departments in the country, in one of the greatest universities in the world. I love U-M with all its diversity, filled with outstanding scientists and bright young minds, out to save the world (and we need saving). To return here and to teach alongside colleagues who were once my professors is a dream come true.
Much of your research work has focused on brain injuries in children and other aspects of pediatric neuropsychology. Can you talk a bit about that work?
For 14 years, before coming to the U-M psychology department, I was a research neuropsychologist on the ICU at Children’s Hospital in Detroit. My work there was driven by the needs of the department. The physicians would pose a question and I would research it, design a method to answer it, execute the project and obtain funding when possible. For example, what are the long-term effects of Reye’s Syndrome? How do you measure pain in an infant or young child so one can accurately dose pain medicine? How can stress be reduced on the families of children sent home on ventilators? How does recovery from acquired brain damage (e.g., gunshot wound, motor vehicle accident) differ at various developmental stages? At the same time, I was a consultant to the public schools focusing on reentry for these children and how their program would differ from those with a learning disability or emotional impairment. It was at that point that it became abundantly clear to me that remedial programs aimed solely at academics were inadequate.
In addition to teaching, you are the head of the MICHIGAN Mentorship Program (MMP). Can you talk a bit about that program and your involvement in it?
As a master’s student, while working with John Hagen, I became aware of a successful U-M-directed intervention program for at-risk youth in Detroit. Over several decades, various methods were tried and what they found is that having a mentor was the greatest predictor for success. So, 15 years later, when confronted with the fact that tutoring programs were ineffective for many students, I thought about devising a mentoring program in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. I had two purposes in mind: (1) to provide an experience for U-M Psychology students to apply learned concepts to real-life situations and (2) to provide a service to the community.
American youngsters confront numerous challenges to their educational and personal development that place them at risk for substance abuse, alienation, crime, dropping out of school, and low self-esteem. The risks are greatest for children who do not have sufficient family support and academic preparation to meet these challenges and ensure motivation and positive visions of their futures. Optimistic perceptions of "possible selves" are critical features of development.
Mentors can nurture positive accomplishments and buffer those at risk from negative developmental trajectories. Guidance from young adults in mentoring relationships provides the emotional, cognitive, and personal support to help children meet the challenges they encounter. The relationship between mentors and mentees is different from the relationship between children and their parents or teachers because authority and evaluation are replaced by shared mutual experiences, empathy, trust, and positive encouragement. College student mentors also benefit from the experience by learning about child development and crises that may differ from their own experiences, as well as from the opportunity to connect academic knowledge of education and psychological development with personal interactions. Thus, both mentors and mentees gain valuable experiences that augment their education and growth.
The undergraduate students need to be supported and guided through this experience while learning how to help. They spend 6-8 hours with their mentees every week, establishing a sense of trust and shared commitment to the youngsters’ well-being. The weekly seminar and individual meetings (with professional staff on-site and with me) help ensure that mentors receive the support and guidance they need.
What advice would you give to people who recently graduated with Psychology degrees and may be wondering where to go from here?
Psychology is used in virtually every profession from marketing companies to fire departments. My advice to recent graduates is to follow your passion. If you are interested in the environment, psychology is used to inspire people to act for the benefit of the community. Businesses hire psychologists to implement methods to raise morale or increase productivity. Psychology is used to understand how people make decisions from voting to buying a car. Psychology prepares people for careers in education, social work, and the justice system. Continue to learn and be curious. Give back and strive to make the world a better place. On average, by the time someone retires, they will have had seven different, distinct vocations. Usually one evolves into another. I am on my seventh. I would not have anticipated that this is where my path would lead, but I am grateful that it did.
Note: Dr. Quart will retire on 12/31/2022. Upon learning of her impending retirement, several of her former students wrote to the University. Here are some quotes from their letters:
The opportunities that the MICHIGAN Mentorship Program (MMP) provided me with introduced me to my passion for clinical practice, as well as the importance of building authentic, trusting relationships. Some of the most valuable information I learned was from Dr. Quart’s previous work at the hospital with high-risk kids. -Emily Dugoff, BA, MA
Upon hearing about Dr. Quart’s retirement, I wanted to first express my gratitude to Dr. Quart for her enthusiasm and steadfast dedication to children, and for the impact she has had on my life. . . . I cannot imagine not having had the opportunity to learn from someone with her knowledge and passion during my time at the University of Michigan. This hands-on experience is something that I continue to talk about with colleagues to this day and I will never forget. - Elana Leflein, BA, MA
Being part of the MMP was more than completing weekly volunteering at local schools - it also involved weekly guidance and advice from our instructor, Dr. Quart. She was our main point of contact and whenever we experienced challenges, she would provide valuable advice that helped improve our mentoring process. - Katii Tang
Being a mentor through MMP was much more than simply taking a course in order to fulfill a graduation requirement or have an interesting program to put on a resume; rather, it was an experience unlike any other at the University of Michigan. It was the perfect combination of theory and practice. The wisdom Dr. Quart has gained from her 28 years of experience as the Director of MMP is epitomized by her superb instruction as well as the practical guidance she provided mentors. She was also able to give me—along with each of my classmates—personalized advice about how to provide the best support for our particular mentees, specifically in the context of their developmental stages and school setting. - Leah Gowatch