Amanda Lasher of Kingston, right, a senior psychology major at
Mount Saint Mary College, talks with Rae Fallon, associate
professor of psychology, about the Psychology Club’s plans to work
with Healing the Children, which helps children get medical
NEWBURGH, NY – “I hope I will be able to touch the lives of
people when they most need help and to offer them advice and
So said Kyle Meditz of Sound Beach.
Meditz, a sophomore at Mount Saint Mary College, is one of the
many students who have made psychology the third most popular major
at college, behind nursing and business. The Mount also has many
students who pursue careers in education, taking a variety of
When you talk with students and graduates, you learn that the
interest in studying psychology at the Mount stems from a desire to
help people and the personal rapport that the professors develop
with their students.
“I have a lot of interest in forensic psychology,” Meditz said.
“My mother is an advocate in the court system and counsels her
clients in personal and judicial matters. I’ve always admired my
mother’s work and as I got older, I began to realize the impact
psychology had in helping people in difficult situations.”
“Everyone is fascinated with psychology: Why do people do the
things they do?” said Paul Schwartz, professor of psychology. “At
the Mount psychology has a strong foundation in research. We hold
conferences for students to learn from experts in the field and
we’ve created centers to study adolescence and aging.”
The study of psychology helps students establish careers in many
areas including counseling, social work, education, the health
professions and police work.
“We prepare our students for graduate school and careers,” said
Lawrence T. Force, professor of psychology and director of the
Mount’s Center for Aging and Policy. “Our research centers cover
the lifespan and our practice-based internships provide students
with real-life experience.”
Amanda Lasher of Kingston, a senior psychology major from
Kingston and president of the Psychology Club, went into psychology
after facing some personal challenges, including the loss of two
“I chose psychology because I realized the help I received to
overcome my challenges provided me with experience I could offer
others in need,” said Lasher. “It is difficult asking for help from
someone who hasn't experienced what you have. I want to help those
who felt no one would understand them.”
Tomasz Michalak, a senior from Newington, CT, chose psychology
because he has “a deep interest in how and why people interact and
respond to their environment.” Through the Mount’s affiliation with
New York Medical College, he hopes to pursue a doctorate in
physical therapy. Michalak is president of Psi Chi, the National
Honor Society in Psychology.
“Psi Chi gives students the opportunity to develop leadership
skills and one-to-one relationships with faculty,” Michalak said.
“It also provides scholarly activities and the chance to serve the
Erica Echeverria of Mount Pocono, PA, a junior psychology major,
said she enjoys trying to help people deal with problems.
“Studying psychology makes me feel like I have a great purpose
in life,” said Echeverria.
Colleen Amundson a senior from Wyckoff, NJ, is studying
psychology because she enjoys trying to understand people.
“I hope to eventually become a family counselor and heal
families before they become broken,” Amundson said.
The Mount provides participatory learning opportunities through
its Center for Adolescence Research and Development and its Center
for Aging and Policy.
The Center for Adolescent Research and Development studies
adolescence with the goal of helping young people on their journey
through adolescence. The center will present a conference,
"Adolescence in the 21st Century: Constants and Challenges for the
Next Generation," featuring psychologist David Elkind, author of
The Hurried Child, April 10, 2010.
The Center for Aging and Policy studies gerontology and will
present a conference “Mental Health Across the Lifespan” April 30,
2010. Aging United, a student organization, works with the center
to create awareness of the challenges facing the elderly.
In addition to adolescence and gerontology, the psychology
faculty have a broad range of interests.
Among the courses that Rae M. Fallon, associate professor of
psychology, teaches are the “Psychology of Autism,” which helps
students understand the challenges of autism throughout a person’s
life; and the “Psychology of Stress” which helps students
understand stress and provides coping skills. Sarah Uzelac,
assistant professor of psychology, is interested in the effects of
stress and anxiety on pregnancy and childbirth and teaches a
course, the “Biopsychology of Birth.”
Amanda M. Maynard, associate professor of psychology, teaches
research methods. In her “Experimental Psychology” course, students
conduct independent experiments, and some of them present their
research at undergraduate, regional and national conferences.
“Research experience in psychology is integral for students
planning for graduate study and employment,” Maynard said, “and our
major is designed to provide students with the professional and
technical research skills they will need to succeed.”
Mount graduates in psychology say the college gave them a good
foundation for their careers.
Andrew O’Grady of Hyde Park, director of case management for
Dutchess County, received a bachelor’s degree in psychology in
“The Mount instilled confidence in me to be a leader and I’ve
been able to do that in my career,” O’Grady said. “The Mount has
great teachers and they prepared me well for graduate school.”
Joseph Monserrat, a staff psychologist at SUNY Albany, earned
his degree in psychology in 1995. He has gone on to get a doctorate
“Paul Schwartz and Larry Force helped pave the way for me,”
Monserrat said. “They are down to earth, easy to talk to. I’m still
in contact them, now as mentors.”
He recalled one of his courses with Force.
“Experimental Psychology was the most serious course I took at
the Mount,” Monserrat said. “It was different from other courses
where I was reading about psychology. With its Skinner Boxes (named
for behavioral scientist B.F. Skinner) and learning about the
behavior of animals, I felt like I was really doing
Another 1995 psychology graduate, Christopher X. Dougherty is a
social worker and counselor at Archbishop Molloy High School in
Queens. Initially, he considered becoming a teacher.
“Dr. Force talked a lot about graduate school and career
choices,” Dougherty said. “Our discussions spurred me to check on
requirements for graduate school and fortunately, I was able to add
some classes I’d not taken.”
While at the Mount, Dougherty went on three alternative spring
breaks, which helped him realize the importance of helping
“In 1994 Chris Van Damm, the food services director, led us on
trip to Illinois,” Dougherty recalled. “We helped families deal
with saturated homes from flooding from the Mississippi River. They
were grateful for our help.”
Michael Miano '99, Professor Lawrence T. Force and Isabel Miano
Michael and Isabel Miano met through the Mount and married in
2005. Isabel graduated in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in
psychology. She is the Healthy Family Supervisor at Occupations,
Inc., working in Newburgh.
“The Mount psychology professors develop wonderfully close
relationships with students,” Isabel said. “They pay attention to
you, treat you almost like a family member. Paul Schwartz was like
my father away from home.
“Rae Fallon provided us with personal experiences in the field.
She helped us apply our textbook readings to the real world.”
Michael graduated with a psychology degree in 1999. He is a
clinician with Mobile Mental Health, part of Occupations, Inc.,
providing crisis intervention services. He also has been teaching
part time in the Mount’s psychology department since 2002.
“The Mount psychology professors reinforced my interest in
studying psychology,” Mike said.
We never just stayed in the classroom. Larry involved us in
aging; Paul took us to group homes; Rae introduced us to
“The Mount psychology professors shared their camaraderie with
us. We were more than students. We were colleagues.”
Students giving presentations at the Psychology Seminar in
Five Tips for Dealing with Stress
1. Deep, slow rhythmic breathing for five minutes in the morning
and when needed. (Breathe in to the count of four; hold it for the
count of four; and breathe out to the count of four.)
2. Self-Talk: Reassure yourself that you can handle whatever your
stressors are and that all will be well.
3. Avoid negative people and thinking as much as possible.
(Negative people and thoughts deplete energy and add tremendously
to stress levels.)
4. Try to do today’s work today and avoid procrastination.
5. Do your best and ask God to help you with all the rest.
Hope these quick tips will help to relax and enjoy all the
blessings that the universe sends us!
- Rae Fallon, associate professor of psychology, Mount Saint