School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

An emotional topic – Meet Kalee De France

PhD, Psychology      

by Phil Gaudreau, April 2020

Amy Cleaver

Kalee De France enjoyed her work as a counsellor for young offenders. She looked forward to a career of helping these youth turn their lives around and overcome the challenge of a criminal record. However, throughout her many meetings with these kids, there was a question nagging at her.

“There are whole programs to help these kids manage their emotions, but a lack of understanding as to why managing emotions was a challenge for them to begin with,” she says.

So, Kalee looked for a graduate program to help her increase her knowledge and advance in her industry. Her search took her to Queen’s for graduate studies in psychology.

While she originally thought it would be a short stay to help her sort out her one big question, reality set in quickly.

“When you start a research program, you have one question and it seems easy…and then you learn about how research works and you realize there are 30 questions to answer before you get to your original question,” she explains. “I first had to learn these other questions which no one was asking. There was no point in going back to my career because my questions were still unanswered.”

Her focus has shifted during her time at Queen’s; while she initially couldn’t wait to get back to working with clients, Kalee now hopes to become a researcher. Still, she intends to keep her community roots by helping other front-line workers answer the same questions she was facing.

“These kids have experienced challenges which have interrupted their development of good regulation habits and healthy strategies to manage their behaviour,” she says. “I hope future research will allow me to look at root causes for these developmental gaps, such as poverty, in other communities beyond Kingston.”

As she prepares to leave the limestone city behind for a post-doctoral opportunity in Montreal, Kalee is reflecting on the past few years at Queen’s and trying to pass on all that she has learned.

“Being in grad school is hard, and you can spend a year and a half on a paper that you’re sick of by the time it is published,” she says. “But I wish I could go back and celebrate those milestones. I also encourage graduate students to go to conferences, explore new cities with people you typically only see in serious, ‘science time’ settings. It takes you out of your grind and puts things in perspective.”

She’s also reflecting on the natural attractions she’ll miss, such as Rock Dunder and Marble Rock Conservation Area, along with the dogs she has fostered with her partner.

To learn more about Queen’s graduate programs in Psychology, visit the School of Graduate Studies’ website.