I was born and raised in West Orange, New Jersey an urban city just ten minutes east of Newark. Entering prep school at the age of thirteen was a very difficult transition for me socially; as the demographic makeup of my academic surroundings switched from the inner-city to predominately suburban. Psychology and medicine have been interests of mine since I was a senior in high school, which is why I took a position as an EMT. I began college on the track for medical school, yet I always managed to keep my interest in psychology by enrolling in at least once course each semester. This pattern continued until my sophomore year, when I changed my major to psychology and decided to pursue it wholeheartedly. Throughout my undergraduate career, I was also a varsity football player for four years, playing the position of cornerback.
In the spring semester of my freshman year of college, I enrolled in a course entitled Social and Emotional Development, which was a seminal moment in fostering my interest in child psychopathology. We examined different factors that influence patterns of development in children, from birth to early adulthood. Captivated by the interaction between genetic predisposition and environmental factors, and subsequent development of or resilience against psychopathological manifestations, I began to explore future research topics of this nature.
While exploring different research opportunities, I came across Mt. Hope Family Center in Rochester, NY during my senior year of college. My interest grew as I learned more about their multi-level studies examining maltreatment in children and adolescents from high-risk, low-income populations. The summer after graduation, I returned home to New Jersey and was hired as a camp counselor for males aged ten through twelve at Harbor Hills Day Camp in Mendham, NJ. This population was quite different from my subsequent experiences, as most were from wealthy families from surrounding suburban cities. Nonetheless, the experience was still valued, as it gave me further insight into the cultural differences of parenting styles in affluent populations.
During the fall semester of 2011, I worked a project entitled The Me and My Family Project, and was supervised by Professor Patrick Davies. The main focus of this project was to examine why children who are exposed to high levels of family discord are at risk for developing psychological problems. The severity and chronicity of the discord, along with knowledge attained through academic courses, helped elucidate to me the robust implications associated with childhood maltreatment.
In the spring semester of 2011, I was an intern on a suicide prevention program called Sources of Strength Community Research Project, which was designed to foster resiliency through supportive social relationships and networks. I was taught the importance of positive peer and adult relationships while augmenting help-seeking behaviors in adolescent-aged children. Through this position, I gained valuable insight into the feelings and cognitions of both suicidal and non-suicidal teenagers, which I would later draw upon when working with adolescents at Mt. Hope Family Center. During this time, I accepted a position as a habilitation counselor for Grace Community Services, which provides living services for individuals with mental disabilities. Through this job, I have developed the ability to work in a challenging environment with diverse individuals, while honing important interpersonal skills utilized in clinical settings, such as patience, active listening, and conflict resolution.
In the summer of 2012, I was hired at Mt. Hope Family Center as a summer camp family research assistant. We conducted family recruitment visits for child participation in Mt. Hope's NIMH-funded summer camp (Child Abuse and Trauma-Related Psychopathology: Multiple Levels of Analysis). Visits were conducted both in family homes as well as at the center, and included providing a detailed description of camp, as well as allaying any logistical concerns of parents, such as time and location for pickup and drop-off. Genetics research has always been a critical aspect of summer camp, as saliva and blood samples were collected for multi-level analysis of different aspects of child and adult development, such as temperament, depression, social withdrawal, impulsivity, and mood disorders, as well as cortisol.
Beginning in September of 2012, I began as a research assistant on a Study of Late Adolescent Resilience. Designed as follow-up to summer camp, this NIDA-funded research examines substance abuse in emerging adults eight years after the assessments in camp. As a multi-level study, it examines anxiety, depression, substance abuse, personality, emotion regulation, and temperament as they pertain to maltreatment. Neurocognitive assessments are used to examine attention, memory, executive planning, decision-making, risk-taking behaviors, and impulsivity. Responsibilities as research assistant were immediate, as I started on Project SOLAR from its inception. As a researcher, we were responsible for almost all aspects of study implementation, including measure and battery organization, distribution of monetary compensation, determining implementation of neurocognitive assessments, and any logistical issues of study participation. As genetics coordinator, I was responsible for implementing and improving cortisol collection protocol, as well as coordinating cortisol shipment for assay.
During my time at Mt. Hope Family Center, I volunteered as a counselor for the PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) Therapeutic Afterschool Program. Started in 1987, the program aims to help elementary school children (aged six to eleven) reduce violent and disruptive behavior through social and emotional learning. Collaborating with other counselors was essential in in creating effective behavior regulation strategies and lesson plans. PATHS provides an open and supportive environment for children in order to foster healthy problem solving and general life skills.
In order to bolster my application to graduate school, I took Kaplan's GRE prep course and enrolled in several PhD level courses at the University of Rochester, including Intro to Clinical Research Methods, Child Development and Learning in Context ages 5-12, and Psychopathology-I. In 2015, I was accepted in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program at Fordham University, where I am currently enrolled. My research interests include examining outcomes for children and adolescents with maltreatment and trauma histories.
Through experiences at both Fordham University and the University of Rochester, I have been equipped with the ability to be an effective tutor and educator of students of all ages and backgrounds. My psychological background has also allowed me to come in contact with a variety of populations throughout numerous situations. I am confident in my ability teach subjects at the elementary through high school level, as I have been a TA for two courses at Fordham University so far, including Foundations of Psychology and Research Methods. Most importantly, I am enthusiastic and motivated to work with young people, and have genuine passion for teaching, learning, and academia.
Undergraduate Degree: University of Rochester - Bachelors, Psychology
Graduate Degree: Fordham University - PHD, Clinical Psychology
Teaching, helping students to achieve their academic goals, sports, video games, reading, working out
High School English