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Lafayette professors shaped career path of child welfare scholar Angela Neal ’01, who published research with Ann McGillicuddy-DeLisi

By Angela Neal ’01

Overall, I had quite a fulfilling experience at Lafayette. I was in an environment that encouraged me to challenge both my mind and my body. As an athlete, I learned the value of dedication and team work. Through my experience as an EXCEL Scholar, my intellectual capacities were pushed to their limits. During my year in the McKelvy House, I was involved in a multidisciplinary exchange that left me in awe of what my classmates were studying.

Activities were certainly a significant part of my Lafayette experience. My professors, however, had the greatest impact on who I am and my outlook on life. I benefited tremendously from the relationships I formed with my professors at Lafayette.

My First-Year Seminar was Race and Class with Bryan Washington, associate professor of English. Often, I would leave his class feeling invigorated. Professor Washington was brilliant. He had this amazing way of orchestrating class discussion. I would call my mom after his class to talk about what we were reading and how inspired I was by Professor Washington’s seminar. The following semester, I had Beth Seetch, the coordinator of the college writing program, for writing. Her class forced me to explore my relationship with writing. Upon leaving her class, I had a new appreciation for the process of writing. In my junior year I had the pleasure of working with her as a writing associate. She offered me the opportunity to help other students grapple with the joys and pains of writing.

In my sophomore year, I met Gladstone Hutchinson, associate professor of economics and business. He would become my father away from home. Although I never took a class with him, we would spend hours in his office discussing the racial dynamics of the campus and this country. Our long discussions would eventually lead to my thesis topic. To this day, before I make a big decision I consult Professor Hutchinson. Although we do not always agree, he continues to support me through all of my growing pains.

During my junior year, I took Introduction to Women’s Studies with Deborah Byrd, associate professor of English and head of women’s studies. For the first time, I had a voice. Her class had the greatest impact on my life and career choice. I was born a feminist, but her class gave me words for the feelings brewing on the inside. Also, during my junior year, I was an EXCEL Scholar for Dr. Ann McGillicuddy-DeLisi, Metzgar Professor of Psychology. She was a phenomenal mentor. She treated me not as an underling, but as a colleague in research. She made me feel like my ideas were just as important as hers. Our work together would lead to a published study.

Several other professors supported me during my journey at Lafayette, including John Shaw, associate professor and assistant head of psychology, Matt McGlone, [former] associate professor of psychology, Thomas Yuster, associate professor of mathematics and Alan Childs, professor of psychology. To be honest, my professors made my Lafayette experience enjoyable. I cherish the relationships I was able to form with the faculty at Lafayette.

Today, I am studying for my MSW [master’s in social work] at the University of Minnesota. I am a child welfare scholar and my interest lies in working with children who have experienced abuse or neglect. When I decided to make a career change from law to social work, I was terrified. I emailed eight of my professors from Lafayette. I was surprised by the responses I received. Deciding to change paths in life is a scary experience. Having the support of people I trust and admire was the nudge I needed to gear myself up for two more years of graduate school. Deciding to pursue a career in social work is one of the best decisions I ever made. I could not have done it without my professors’ support.

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