By Sophia Harris News Editor
What is your educational and professional background?
I went to Framingham State as an undergrad. I was a psych major and English minor. I graduated in 2008. I worked for a year for Boston University and the VA [Veteran Affairs] hospital in Bedford. I was working on a clinical trial for people who were trying to quit smoking and were in recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. It was a clinical/research job. So after that, I went to Clark University in Worcester, for my master's and Ph.D. in social psychology. While finishing that, I was an adjunct here. So I taught part-time here while I was finishing my degree. And then after I defended my dissertation, I started work here as a full-time professor.
What are your goals as a psychology professor?
One of my goals is that I want my students to be knowledgeable about ideas and psychology and how that can help them better understand the world around them. That can mean in their own lives. … Just helping them better understand the way they interact with other people, and the way people in general interact, and groups interact. I think part of that, and this is heavy in my mind because I'm teaching research methods this semester, is also helping students be critical consumers of psychological knowledge because everybody wants to use psychology to understand the world around us, but, sometimes, it gets distorted in the media. So, being able to understand what goes on behind the research process so they can be more tuned in to having suspicions about the way findings are communicated.
Do you have any hobbies?
I have three fairly young kids. I have an eight-year-old and an almost six-year-old and a three-and-a-half-year-old. So they take up a lot of my time - just hanging out with them. I also coach my two older boys’ soccer teams, so I'm busy with that. But beyond them, what I like to do is - I love to read. I'm in a book club with some friends. We meet once a month. I also really love baking. I'm vegan and my family's mostly vegan and one of my kids has celiac. All my baking is vegan and gluten-free. Baking gluten-free, especially, it's kind of a challenge. So it's kind of like a fun, challenging hobby. … I really like musicals, too. … So that's really fun.
What is something your students wouldn't expect to know about you?
I would say maybe the biggest thing … is that I get very anxious about public speaking. I think that people don't expect it of teachers because we're in front of classes. It's very interactive, and I get to know them. So I still do. I’ve been teaching for quite a while now and I still do get a little anxious at the beginning of the semester before I first meet my classes.
How did you first become interested in teaching psychology?
I think from a really young age, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Like I always loved the idea of teaching. I loved school. I'm a middle child and have a younger sister and I used to love … helping teach her to read and things like that. I babysat a lot, so I knew I wanted to teach. And when I came to Framingham, I was originally an early childhood education and psych major, and then I really fell in love with psychology. I thought, “If you don't want to teach kindergarten, maybe I want to teach English.” That's why I had a minor in English. And then, because I love it so much, I started to think about pursuing that. And then I thought, “Well, I can just bring these two things together, and I can do psychology.” So that became more of my intended goal. And when I was doing my grad degree, I taught at Clark and I taught at Framingham and I did a seminar in college teaching.
Do you have any advice for students?
I would say the biggest piece of advice for students would be to get to know their professors and use them as a resource. I was a first-generation college student. I know many of the students here are, too. I know it can be kind of overwhelming or intimidating and I think people can be hesitant to reach out for help. But I think most professors are teaching because they love teaching, and a big part of that is, really wanting people to learn, and wanting people to get something out of the classes, and wanting to find ways for students to be successful in classes. And when I say that, I don't just mean in terms of grades, but in terms of really feeling like it's beneficial to them and their lives moving forward. I think that's the biggest thing. We have the benefit here of having small class sizes for the most part, so you really can get to know your professors and form close relationships with them. That's really helpful for success here - especially for things like getting letters of recommendation moving forward, so that'd be the biggest thing, I would say. Also just exploring things by finding out what you're passionate about because you don't have to come in knowing that - a lot of people change their minds.