Merrimack College Psychology - Q&A with Tia Roy

Tia Roy smiles for the camera

Tia Roy graduated from Merrimack College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology this past May 2015, as the highest ranking student in the Psychology Department. She was awarded the J. Nicholas Buehler Award in Psychology.

What has your experience in psychology been like at Merrimack College? Were there other schools you were considering, and if so, why did you choose this one?

The Psychology Department at Merrimack College is one of a kind. Each of the faculty members bring a different area of research and expertise to the classroom, and truly engage their students in a multitude of ways. My psychology courses at Merrimack have challenged me academically and personally, and have allowed me to look at everything outside of the classroom through a critical lens. Before choosing Merrimack College I considered many Massachusetts public universities, and when choosing Merrimack it came down to the size of the school accompanied by the sense of community.

What influenced you to pursue a major/career in psychology?

I actually started at Merrimack majoring in Education and Moderate Disabilities. During a service learning experience working with children in an educational setting I realized that teaching children was not what I was truly passionate about. I questioned what interested me about education, teaching, and people in general (not just children) and I realized that psychology was a discipline that would allow me to explore my talents, passions, and abilities through these areas.

Have you participated in any internships? If so, how many, how were they, and did you find the schools resources to be helpful in helping you find this opportunity?

As a Career Peer Advisor in the O’Brien Center for Student Success at Merrimack College, I was able to be directly connected with various internships and experiential learning opportunities. The Career Advising staff at Merrimack were extremely helpful and visibly cared about my personal and professional development while in college.

In addition to creating a nationally recognized first generation college student support initiative at Merrimack (called Generation Merr1mack), I held 4 internships during my time at Merrimack:

  1. CLASS, Inc. – Turning 22 Program Development Intern

Responsible for the research and creation of an extensive grant-funded support program for families of young adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities, at and before turning the age of twenty two focusing on topics of legality, social development, independence, employment and furthering education. Assist in the marketing and outreach for development of relations between Merrimack College and CLASS, Inc.

  1. Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School - Future Preparation Counselor Intern

Developed and launched the First Annual Alumni Panel Event, inviting back successful Whittier Tech alumni to speak of their success in their field, trade or college program; Met with juniors and senior students in individual counseling appointments to discuss after graduation options and follow-through procedures; Presented a weekly College Preparation Workshop Series for the sophomore health occupations students regarding various college programs, areas of interest, and ways to begin preparing as a sophomore.

  1. Merrimack College – Gender Communication Teaching Assistant

Worked alongside Dr. Raechel Tiffe to support 7 students in COM3201CA to act as a guiding reference for all course material relating to issues of intersectionality, privilege, power, and oppression specifically examining people of color, women, and the LGBTQ population.

  1. Northern Essex Community College – Enrollment Services Intern

Created and launched NECC Life Campaign to promote community college pride by encouraging students to post pictures of themselves and other engaging in activity on campus and learning through all social media outlets; Worked collaboratively with local community organizations including Opportunity Works & Haverhill Kiwanis to build opportunities for students through hands-on learning and professional mentoring accessibility; Generated Admissions focused initiative called NECC Nights to educate and interact with 60 feeder high schools to inform students of college application process, academics, financial aid, and involvements early.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

In the fall I will be attending the University of Connecticut’s Higher Education & Student Affairs (HESA) Master’s degree program. During my time at UConn I will be working in the Dean of Students Office as well as Off Campus Student Services, where I will serve as a graduate assistant. My future goal is to become an administrative leader within higher education, working with students to allow them to develop personally and professionally in an engaging and intellectual environment.

What has been the most challenging aspect of studying psychology, and was this something you had originally anticipated?

I am a very hands on, practical learner and enjoy theory to practice models of education. I found myself surprised at the amount of research associated with the psychology major. Although I do not love research as much as hands on work, I learned a great deal of how to plan, execute, and present research which will assist me in my future endeavors within higher education.

What advice would you give someone else trying to break into this field?

Ask questions! There are never enough questions that could be asked. When you are entering a school, or starting in a program, ask questions about what the faculty members study along with how and when you might have the opportunity to work with them. Ask about what the psychology program focuses on: research, clinical psychology, counseling psychology, etc.?

Bond with faculty and staff; under the intelligence and degrees – they are first and foremost people. Some of them could even become your mentors!

Is there anything you wish you had known about psychology ahead of time before choosing this career path?

The psychology major really built a foundation for me as I pursue my next degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. Skills that employers want, are often found in psychology majors who are able to think critically and develop new perspectives for behavior, situations, and collaboration. I wish I had asked more questions before I started in the program, like I said before – you can never ask too many questions, that’s how you learn.

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