What is your current position, and what do you find the most fulfilling about it?
Currently I hold two positions: I work full-time as a clinical psychologist for the 87th Medical Group at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and part-time as an adjunct professor in the Psychology department at TCNJ. I find
these positions to be extremely fulfilling, as they allow me to exercise both my interest in clinical work and service as well as education and mentorship. Many therapy clients I work with have had deployment experiences. It is very rewarding to provide services to strengthen the health and resilience of those currently serving our country. Additionally, I am thrilled to teach a trauma seminar in the same department where I received my undergraduate education. In this position, I feel lucky to have the opportunity to educate future psychologists, but also to contribute to a more trauma-informed society.
Can you describe your path from TCNJ to your current position as a Clinical Psychologist? What steps and career moves got you where you are today?
I knew I wanted to go to graduate school even before I started college. Thus, I focused on making myself a competitive applicant throughout my undergraduate experience. I took opportunities to learn more about the field, gain some clinical skills, and contribute to research. To accomplish this goal, I volunteered at CONTACT, Mercer county’s suicide hotline, interned with Princeton Hospice, and worked in the Romantic Relationships Research (RRR) lab. Following TCNJ, I attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania for my clinical Psy.D. It was here that I began to develop an interest and focused training in psychological trauma. I sought out various training experiences to support this interest, including working with college student survivors of sexual assault, working in community mental health, and training in trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) at the Center for Traumatic Stress in Pittsburgh. I completed my predoctoral internship and postdoctoral fellowship at Temple University’s counseling center, participating on the Sexual Assault Counseling and Education (SACE) unit. Diverse experiences like these have prepared me well to work with our military service members.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned while at TCNJ?
The most important lesson I learned as a student at TCNJ was the value of mentors. In college, you are assigned an advisor; however, I found that when I identified professors who I hoped to emulate, I adopted them as mentors. This involved showing up to office hours, volunteering for events, and taking a leading role in Psi Chi. One such professor for me was Dr. Candice Feiring, who runs the Romantic Relationship Research lab at TCNJ. It was her guidance and support that helped me forge my path to graduate school, professionally and personally. A good mentor can be crucial to success, by providing insight into the field, opportunities to boost experience, and emotional support to build confidence.
What is your favorite memory from your time at TCNJ?
In my time at TCNJ, I developed a love and lust for travel. As a psychologist, I was always deeply interested in other cultures, and people in general. During college, I had the fortunate opportunities to travel to Central America, Europe, and the Middle East. While my studies were a priority, it is often these extracurricular experiences that teach the most, and provide new life perspectives. Traveling is more than just “seeing the world,” but pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone, making connections with people much different than yourself, and challenging yourself to see from a different point of view; consequently, these are all attributes of a good therapist
What advice can you give to current students at TCNJ?
Be kind to yourself. I am very familiar with the caliber of the average TCNJ student. With this intelligence and aptitude often comes pressure and competition. To achieve our goals, we need supporters; you can play part of that role. Practicing self-compassion can help you to develop patience and understanding for yourself, which will allow you to identify your passions, challenge yourself, and improve your self-confidence. This is critical to your success in a demanding field.
Interview by Maddie Anthes, November/December, 2017.