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Meet the Graduates of the School Psychology Program

Betsy Juarez: Class of 2012

Who are you and what year did you enter STJ?
I began the Psy.D. program in 2007 after having taken one year to work with children with autism.  In 2006, I graduated from Boston College, where I majored in psychology and minored in Hispanic Studies. 

What projects/research are you currently working on and with what professor? 
During my first two years, I had a doctoral fellowship and worked with Dr. Ortiz as well as Dr. Walton. I helped Dr. Walton with some of her personality data from Vietnam.  Dr. Ortiz and I have been researching cultural competence and what it means for school psychologists. We have also created a measure to assess graduate students' cultural competence before and after a course in cultural diversity. Dr. Terjesen and I have examined major school psychology journals to uncover common publishing practices.  We are working now on making some of our convention posters into a journal article for submission.  Finally, I've worked on my dissertation with Dr. Flanagan.  She and I are examining whether cognitive-achievement relationships that have been supported by previous research are also present in children with low reading achievement. We will also be writing a journal article for submission this coming summer. 

What has been your most valuable experience(s) so far at STJ?
I've had numerous valuable experiences during my graduate career with STJ.  The thing that stands out the most was my summer abroad in Vietnam. I was with an amazing group of students and staff.  We bonded during that time as we grew from our experiences across the globe. My personal and professional interest in cultural competence really took off from that trip. 

How has STJ influenced your identity in the field of school psychology?
I would say that our professors at STJ have largely influenced me.  They really encourage students to engage in the research and to observe how that carries over into practice.  They are also very involved themselves in the field.  For instance, I have attended the past 5 NASP conventions.  When I see them present or see them among other experts, it is apparent to me just how ingrained they are in the gears and cogs of school psychology.  Students at STJ are being exposed to cutting edge research and to professors who truly strive for best practices. 

Where do you see yourself in the future and how will STJ help you reach that goal?
I plan to practice in the field and also to work in academia.  I believe that my desire to be on both sides stems from STJ's emphasis on the scientist-practitioner model.  I don't think I could be content to stop learning at this point.  I love working with children and helping them succeed, but I also love research and moving forward with the field.  Those ideals come from my time at STJ. Also, the networking that I've achieved and continue to achieve through my professors will likely help me in a more practical way.  I've already interviewed with (and been offered a position at) one university up in Boston due to a recommendation from a STJ professor at a convention.

Dr. Froh 

Who are you, what year did you graduate from STJ, and what degree did you earn?
 My name is Jeffrey Froh, and I graduated from St. John’s School Psychology Program with my Psy.D. in 2004. 

What are you currently doing/involved in now? 
I am currently an assistant professor at Hofstra University with main responsibilities in the School-Community Psy.D. program. There I teach courses in research methods (graduate) and positive psychology (undergraduate). My research now focuses on the well-springs, assessment, and promotion of gratitude in youth. 

What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am most proud of landing my position at Hofstra University. I worked as a school psychologist for 3 years prior to joining Hofstra, and entering academia was always one of my dreams. So to get a tenure-track position at such an incredible place like Hofstra is a dream come true for me. I am also very proud of the $1 million dollar grant we just received from The John Templeton Foundation to study gratitude in youth, the contract we have with Templeton Press for a trade book on raising grateful kids, and the activities book for teaching positive psychology that I co-edited for the American Psychological Association. 

How has the education at STJ influenced your current professional identity?
There is no question in my mind that I am where I am today professionally because of my education from St. John’s University. First, the faculty treated us as much more than students; they treated us as colleagues. And it was these relationships that gave me the support, encouragement, and confidence needed to excel in and out of the classroom. Second, the faculty were incredible role models when it came to being true scientist-practitioners. Before entering St. John’s becoming a professor and researcher never, and I mean never, crossed my mind. But after only a few months of working with the leaders in the field, I became hooked on conducting research. Passion breeds passion and working with the St. John’s faculty on research left me with no choice but to feed off of their energy and develop a love for crunching numbers and learning how the world works. Finally, the St. John’s faculty cared for their students. It became clear to me early on that they did not merely have jobs or even careers—they had callings and helping students find their own professional purpose was their priority. If the faculty did not take such an interest in me or my goal pursuits, who knows where I would be. To say I am grateful to them would be an understatement. 

Where do you see yourself in the future and how has STJ influenced that?
I see myself still teaching at Hofstra University but, I see myself getting less involved with research and more involved with teaching and administration. St. John’s influenced that because I saw how they changed student’s lives by keeping the human touch alive. Doing so takes time and if helping students live a more meaningful and fulfilling life means I have to step away from the lab and spend more time in the classroom or reviewing budgets, so be it. To me, it’s well worth it.

Ellen-ge Denton: Alumni

Who are you, what year did you graduate from STJ, and what degree did you earn? 
My name is Ellen-ge Denton and I graduated in May 2008 with a PsyD in School Psychology.

What are you currently doing/involved in now? 
I am a Licensed Psychologist and Post Doctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University Medical Center. 

What accomplishments are you most proud of? 
I am most proud of completing and publishing scholarly research articles. 

How has the education at STJ influenced your current professional identity?
My education at SJU has given me established and productive collaborations for both research and clinical work, which has shaped every career opportunity that I have had since graduation. I am extremely grateful for the expert and authentic professors at SJU. 

Where do you see yourself in the future and how has STJ influenced that? 
SJU has given me several research opportunities and excellent clinical training. I see myself teaching clinical/school psychology in a University department and developing a research lab to assess the cultural factors that influence mental health outcomes.