On October 21, the Department of Psychology collaborated with the Office of Alumni Relations in presenting Psyched for the Future, an event that gave current St. Joseph’s College students and professors, and scholars from other organizations, the opportunity to converse with alumni who are now experts in the field of psychology.
Six graduates from SJC’s Long Island Campus shared their stories and knowledge about what it means to be a successful student and a thriving psychologist. Almost every seat was taken in O’Connor Hall’s Shea Conference Center as aspiring social workers, psychologists and counselors gathered to hear words of encouragement.
Also in attendance was Paige Napoli Carbone ’02, director of alumni relations; Catherine Vitucci ’04, assistant director of alumni career services and moderator of the event, and Christopher Frost, Ph.D., academic dean for the Long Island Campus.
“This event was put together to help the students get some meaningful and useful information about their options for graduate school in psychology and their current work or internship situations,” said Diane Sherlip, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at St. Joe’s. “These panelists are a wealth of information, having graciously and generously given their time to share their valuable knowledge.”
As the panelists lined up to face countless expressions of curiosity, they explained that, whatever the struggle may be, every student can conquer their dreams.
“Graduate school is an amazing experience and stressful at the same time, so it’s very important to stay focused on your goals,” said alumna Laura Van Schaick-Harman ’06, Psy.D., psychologist and lecturer at St. Joseph’s.
With her own private practice as well, Harman advised the spectators that the main objective is to be open to possibilities. “Get involved with some professional organizations, do your research, stay focused and have a great time in grad school.”
Another speaker and mental health counselor, Joseph Ricciardi ’09, celebrated with the students on his recent achievement in passing the licensing exam.
“Next month, I will be licensed and I will also be going into a private practice, which was always a dream of mine,” he said. Having struggled with a learning disability at a young age, Ricciardi revealed that determination can help overcome many conflicts.
“Everyone wants to be the best student or the smartest student but, in reality, it’s truly about being the hard working student,” he said. “What I love about St. Joe’s is that if you did a project and struggled with it, a professor will sit with you and encourage you on how to fix it, and show you your strengths and your weaknesses, so that you can develop yourself.”
Along with this, alumna and licensed master social worker Samantha Caputo ’10 informed the students how crucial it is to make friends during graduate school.
“It’s a difficult program to get through because it’s very fast pace, so make friends,” she said. “It’s good to form groups of people that you’re friends with so that you can work together and help each other out.”
Now a student assistance counselor at the Rocky Point School District, Caputo explained that interning is significant within the workforce. “You learn a lot in the classroom but until you’re out in the field getting involved in real life experiences, that’s when you really learn,” she said.
“Networking is very important too,” said Kenneth Roche ’03, a mental health counselor and director of a small private practice in Bay Shore. “I got a lot of tips and pointers on how to get into a private practice from Dr. Sherlip.”
Roche explained that his requirements at SJC prepared him for the graduate program at Adelphi University. “You have such a good preparation here for grad school based on the reading and writing, which you have to be strong in both, as well as thinking critically and analytically.”
A recent graduate among the six panelists, Krystalyn Kass ’12, is currently pursuing a master’s degree, studying general psychology, in a one-year graduate program at Stony Brook University.
“It works out well for me because it’s a general program for those who don’t know exactly what they want to do,” she said. From her experience, Kass points out that, in life, it is okay to make mistakes.
“It does take doing some wrong things and different things to figure out what you really care about,” she continued. “I think that identity and figuring ourselves out, especially at this age, has to be an active pursuit. You have to be self sufficient, assertive and feel as comfortable as you possibly can, or fake it till you make it.”
Another alumni volunteer was school psychologist Christopher Kearney ’01, Psy.D., who started by expressing his gratitude toward the College.
“Some of the professors in this room were my teachers and mentors, and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Kearney said. “I’m very thankful to them.”
In addition, Kearney reassured the young scholars that, as long as there is persistence, no length in time can defile ones ability to achieve a goal. “You can persevere in anything you want, if you really want it,” he said. “You just have to believe in yourself and keep focusing on your goal. Being here today means that you’re really dedicated and that you want this information, so you’re going to be great.”
As the event concluded, the students walked out of the room afresh and confident for their impending future. “You’ll be amazed by the doors that will open up to you, if you’re willing to put yourself out there,” Sherlip said. “Through embracing the challenges ahead and really doing the work, anything is possible.”