visiting assistant professor of psychology

Ph.D., clinical psychology, Northern Illinois University

What I study:

“I’m a clinical psychologist with an emphasis on post-traumatic stress disorder. I worked in a PTSD lab at Kent State, where I did my undergrad, and that’s what really sparked my interest. I was fascinated by how two different people could go through a similar traumatic event and take really different courses after that. In graduate school, I looked at the resiliency factors and the different trajectories people take after a trauma.”

What compelled me:

“While in graduate school, I applied for an adjunct position at McHenry County Community College, and I really fell in love with teaching. I did that for a few years and then worked in the clinical world. I worked at the San Diego Veterans Hospital and at the Palo Alto VA Hospital. I enjoyed the work, but those experiences led me to believe that maybe a career that was 100 percent clinical wasn’t the right fit for me. I really missed teaching and having great intellectual conversations with students. I’m excited to be at a liberal arts institution that has an emphasis on teaching.”

What I hope my students learn:

“PTSD has been my focus for eight years. It has become such a part of my life that I have to really be cognizant of how intense a subject it is as I start my abnormal psychology class. I have worked with a lot of people who have been abused as children or as adults. For a lot of students, this will be their first exposure, and it’s a very heavy topic. What I hope to convey is that there are a lot of really wonderful treatments out there. And the work you do in this field is challenging but really important and really rewarding.”

What I’m holding:

“The framed artwork in my left hand is from a former client. I have worked with patients with borderline personality disorder, and often these people have experienced extreme childhood trauma. The treatment that we do—it’s called dialectical behavior therapy—is intensive, and it’s quite long. So you really get to know the person you are working with well. At the end of the treatment, she gave me this, which had been hanging in her house. It’s about overcoming challenges and surrendering to change, and she said that she always would read it and hoped that one day she would believe it. I’m getting choked up talking about this… at the end of her treatment, she said that she finally believed it. It’s challenging work, but when you get something like that, it reminds you that this is why you are doing this. I will cherish this forever. In my right hand is a letter I received from a student after my first semester of teaching. She said that after being in my introduction to psychology class she wanted to get a degree in psychology. It was my first exposure to how much impact you can have on students. I don’t think I realized how much of a role you can play in the course of their development. It was very touching and meaningful to me.”

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Categorized in: New Faculty