Social Sciences

A study of service: Social Sciences at the Mount

Margaret Bussigel, Mount professor of sociology, teaches a class.

At Mount Saint Mary College, students are instilled with a passion for service. Our scholars learn how to use their skills to not only thrive in their personal lives, but also to make a positive impact on the world. The Mount’s Division of Social Sciences is especially known for training students to enter traditional “helping professions” in History, Political Science, Counseling, Criminology, Human Services, Psychology, Social Work, Sociology, and Social Sciences.

Past made present

In addition to numerous opportunities for research and hands-on field trips with the Mount’s knowledgeable History professors, History majors at the Mount give back to the local community in numerous ways.

For example, History and Adolescent Education students Mark Sanchez-Potter of Newburgh, NY and Samantha McGregor of Highland Mills, NY teamed up to assist sixth graders from the San Miguel Academy learn more about their town’s history.

The students, with the aid of Sanchez-Potter and McGregor, saw history come to life as they visited George Washington’s Headquarters, the old Newburgh Court House, and the David Crawford House. At the end of the project, the students wrote stories about the Newburgh of then and now, which were compiled into a work titled, “A Glance into Old and New Newburgh.”

Students visit Washington's Headquarters with History professor John Riley.“The project gave the students a sense of their own history and how their town became a vital component of the development of our country,” explained McGregor. “The students were able to use a hands-on approach to examine and research changes and developments a city experiences over time.”

Right: The Mount’s historically-rich location in New York’s Hudson Valley is another great reason to study History here. The campus is located just a few minutes from the Hudson River and historical attractions like Washington’s Headquarters.

Mount student accompanies WWII veterans to war memorialsHistory/Political Science major Michael Corcoran of Highland Mills, NY was able to give back by accompanying a World War II veteran to war memorials  through the Hudson Valley Honor Flight program. 

“It’s was great to volunteer on this project,” said Corcoran. “This generation in the 21st century still knows that they did, appreciates what they did. And future generations will as well.”

No time like the present

Students in the Division of Social Sciences’ “helping professions” like Counseling, Psychology, Human Services, and Social Work don’t have to wait until graduation to make a difference with their skills.

For example, the Mount’s Beginnings in Psychological Science student organization brings psychology concepts to elementary school students, introducing them to the field at a young age. The Mount students design lesson plans on everything from emotions to how the brain and senses relate to feelings. 

“There is just something about seeing younger students interact with one another about a topic I am passionate about that makes me blissful,” explained Elizabeth Lavin of Hicksville, N.Y., one of the co-founders of the group.

Mount student interns with the NYS governmentStudents also have the opportunity to volunteer in the community through the student-run Aging United club or the ProActive Caring initiative on campus, which was recently awarded a $600,000 grant to create a program for families of individuals with disabilities, and will provide opportunities for student collaboration and research.  

Right: History/Political Science major Nirmala Singh was able to put her skills to use while still a student at the Mount during her internship at the New York State Assembly.

Mount Social Science students also make an impact through research opportunities on campus. The Summer Undergraduate Research Experience and Senior Research Psychology Symposium have allowed students to explore and contribute to the field of social sciences on a number of topics, including childbirth decision-making processes, psychological implications on purchases and brand ownership, and effects of autism on a child’s everyday life. 

Research can be key in not only launching a student’s career, but also in affecting change, explains Amanda Maynard, associate professor of Psychology at the Mount. 

“The Social Science programs at the Mount emphasize research and application,” she notes. “Helping students develop transferrable research skills that they can use in their personal and professional lives will help graduates to excel in the workplace and to become successful lifelong learners.”

Mount students run Beginnings in Psychological Science class.The Mount's Beginnings in Psychological Science is a student-run program bringing psychology lessons on emotions, feelings, and the body to elementary school students.

Looking to the future

The Mount’s newest major, Criminology, is a popular academic program because of its unique approach to the study. The program differs from criminal science by instead looking at crime from a holistic approach, analyzing not only crimes and laws, but also the deeper reasons behind crime and society’s approach to criminals and victims. 

For students, this change in dialogue turns an academic study into a vocational passion.

“I’ve never seen anything like the Mount’s program,” says Alexander Nova, a Criminology major from Newburgh, NY with a military background and aspirations of becoming  a police officer. “Other schools concentrate on teaching the law, with no focus on the individual. Criminology personalizes Jennifer Lee-Gonyea teaches a Criminology course at the Mount.everything…it makes you a more compassionate, well-rounded professional, and brings a heart and sense of purpose to the lives of service we hope to lead.”

Right: Jenifer Lee-Gonyea, associate professor of Criminology, teaches a course on Criminology at the Mount.

This career outlook is key to the division’s preparation of its students – both for the work world and as members of society. “My favorite classes have been those that have prepared me for my future career goals and also helped expand my passion of Clinical Psychology and Neuro-psychology,” said Dylan Wiand, a Psychology major and Sociology minor from Red Hook, NY.

“There's no other place I could imagine myself graduating from and going onward,” the aspiring psychologist added. “I will be the first person in my family to complete an undergrad education and I am so happy I chose to do it here!”

Be a force for change

Do you want to make a lasting difference with your career? The Mount’s Division of Social Sciences may be for you. Programs are available for both traditional and adult degree completion students, so find out more at msmc.edu/socialsciences

Students in the Mount's FYE program visit the MET.