Liberal Arts in Action


Brianna Fitapelli ’21 (Psychology)

Doctoral Student

After graduating from SUNY New Paltz, Ms. Brianna Fitapelli completed a MA degree from Teachers College, Columbia University in Counseling and Clinical Psychology and was recently accepted to join Adelphi University’s Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. Over the past several years, Ms. Fitapelli has secured and sustained employment in psychiatric hospitals and research organizations, working to improve mental health care for under-resourced populations. She plans to continue this work throughout her doctoral studies and hopes to open a private practice and continue supporting innovative research in NYS mental health facilities.

Ms. Fitapelli returned to academia in 2019 to complete her bachelor’s degree in psychology at SUNY New Paltz. Throughout her time there, she built lasting relationships with peers and faculty that have served as her mentors to this day. Her experiences included working in research labs, writing her first experimental thesis project, and building a network of trusted, like-minded individuals proved invaluable. Furthermore, the skills she acquired helped Ms. Fitapelli secure an internship position at Manhattan Psychiatric Center where she was promoted to a full-time employee in the inpatient psychiatric unit. The opportunities that have been presented in the short time period since graduation have been both rewarding and illuminating. SUNY New Paltz helped shape the professional Ms. Fitapelli has become and laid the foundation for her promising career. She is grateful for her time at SUNY New Paltz as it opened her eyes to the integrative, collaborative, and professional world of research and clinical practice in psychology.

Once I determined I wanted to pursue my doctorate degree, I knew a liberal arts education was needed as a precursor. I very much appreciated the teachings that were offered that forced me to widen the expanse of my interests, as they ultimately broadened my worldview. I believe a liberal arts education can represent myriad experiences for different people. Personally, it helped me to acclimate back into academia as well as to explore and challenge my beliefs and goals.

Dr. Glenn Geher was the most responsive and supportive with my research.


July, 2022


Photo of Milena GuimaraesMilena Guimarães ‘19 (Psychology)

Research Assistant and Intern in Clinical Counseling

As a research assistant in a neuroscience lab, I deal with qualitative and quantitative research methods, the process of collecting and analyzing data, as well as reviewing and publishing articles. As an intern in clinical counseling, I attend and support patients according to the Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy, under the supervision of a psychologist and psychology professor.

SUNY New Paltz provided me with access to courses that I would not have had the opportunity to study during my undergraduate studies in Brazil. Also, at New Paltz, I was able to work part-time as a conversation partner, helping other international students with the English language. In addition, I took part in the Romance Language Community and the International Students Association. I even took Karate classes for the first time in my life! I am very grateful for New Paltz for affording me all these amazing experiences. They transformed and inspired me to become the professional I want to be someday.        

I have always imagined myself pursuing a career in which I could be in touch with people and their subjectivities. I believe that liberal arts educations means just that; the courses allow you to think, study and collaborate towards a more humanized and empathic world.

Professor Glenn Geher inspired me the most. Professor Geher introduced me to Evolutionary Psychology. Because this field of study it is not well developed in undergraduate courses in Brazil, I had been looking forward to taking the course since first applying to New Paltz. His classes are amazing and were some of my favorite while I was a student at New Paltz. Professor Geher is a kind person who loves teaching and always looks after his students. Although I am no longer at New Paltz, he still provides me with valuable insights and continues to be an inspiration to me.

April, 2021


Kristyn Muller ’10 (Psychology and Interpersonal/Intercultural Communication)

Kristyn MullerImpact Analyst, Open SUNY, SUNY System Administration

I am currently the Impact Analyst for Open SUNY within the SUNY System Administration. In this role, I evaluate the effectiveness of Open SUNY’s services, analyze how online learning impacts SUNY’s overall goals, and develop ways to share data to inform the continuous improvement of SUNY’s online learning practices. I was previously the Assistant Director of Residential Life for University Apartments at the University of Albany, where I was very involved in assessment initiatives on campus. I concurrently served as the part-time Assessment and Data Analyst for the Division of Student Affairs and helped coordinate the strategic planning process for the division. I recently earned my Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership from the University at Albany.

My experiences at SUNY New Paltz directly influenced my career and academic path. While I was enrolled at New Paltz, I was the president of the Residence Hall Student Association, a resident assistant, Welcome Center employee, and a member of several other student groups. I had the privilege of getting to know several senior-level administrators, which opened my eyes to career opportunities within higher education. Further, through my academic coursework, especially within the Psychology Department, I had the chance to work closely with faculty members to conduct research related to education, learning motivation, and students’ co-curricular involvement. These experiences provided the foundation for my career and academic decisions so far and will continue to be valuable moving forward. I am extremely grateful for my time at New Paltz and proud to continue to be part of the SUNY system.

I believe that a liberal arts education provides students the opportunity to explore a wide variety of topics and discover what they are passionate about. As an undergraduate at New Paltz, I was fortunate to be able to take courses in multiple disciplines that aligned with my interests. I managed to have two majors (Psychology and Interpersonal/Intercultural Communication) as well as two minors (Theatre and Evolutionary Studies). In these areas, I not only learned content knowledge, but also participated in a diverse range of educational activities. For example, I participated in a research team with graduate students, conducted an empirical study for my honors thesis, presented about communication skills to a group of public employees in Ulster County, and published a paper in an evolutionary studies journal. The competencies I gained from these experiences were integral to my success as a master’s and doctoral student, and are still useful in my career today. Overall, due to the broad nature of the liberal arts curriculum, I had the chance to individualize my education at New Paltz and attain a strong foundation for myself as a learner, educator, and citizen.

December 2018

 Vania Rolon ’17g (Psychology)

Vania RolonCulture and Evolution Ph.D. candidate

I am currently completing my Ph.D. at Brunel University London under a studentship with Dr. David Schmitt. Some of my responsibilities include assisting with the occasional teaching and assignment grading, but mostly I help Dr. Schmitt in his research on sexuality, sex differences, and cross-cultural psychology while simultaneously completing my own research on the use of religion as a means to suppress human sexuality, particularly women's. My position involves performing myriad statistical analyses (some of which I never saw in class and thus have had to learn on the go) with large cross-cultural data sets. Fortunately, working as an undergraduate statistics TA for Dr. Alison Nash and Dr. Doug Maynard at SUNY New Paltz gave me a strong basic understanding of statistics, to the point that I can easily build up on that knowledge and add new skills to my statistical toolbox. I also need to juggle several projects at once, which can become somewhat overwhelming. As Dr. Schmitt puts its, you want to have several projects and potential publications cooking at the same time, but you don't want to neglect any project for too long lest your pot burns. Doing this demands great organization of your time, which is a skill I was able to acquire during my time at New Paltz as I was not only a TA, but also a research assistant with both Dr. Glenn Geher and Dr. Doug Maynard. There was always something to keep me busy!

Statistical analyses aside, one of the most important skills I acquired during my time in New Paltz was the ability to network. As someone who can be pretty shy and insecure of her own knowledge, I always found networking hard and tedious; however, because I was able to attend several conferences as an MA, I gradually became more comfortable with talking to others at these events. In fact, I met Dr. Schmitt during a conference during my second year as an MA. Being able to talk to him and discuss my ideas definitely made me a more memorable Ph.D. candidate and improved my chances of getting accepted at Brunel.

I decided to study psychology because I wanted to understand why humans behave the way they do. My curiosity regarding people's behaviour began all the way back in middle and high school, where I was often bullied for being the studious girl or for being the one atheist kid in a highly Catholic country. At this stage in life, I wondered why people engaged in "mean" actions such as hypocrisy, gossip, and aggression towards those who were different. Never having been an optimistic person, I saw human nature as inherently bad and wanted to understand this malignance. Years later, I sat through an undergraduate course in evolutionary psychology at SUNY Plattsburgh, and for one brief second, everything about human nature clicked. This "click" is a feeling that many evolutionary psychologists have felt when they first learned about the field. Unlike with other courses where the studies I learned about seemed US-specific, the lessons in my evolutionary psychology course were lessons that I could see applying in any culture and in any point in time. It felt so enlightening that I thought, "Why don't more people know about this?! I need to tell everyone!" This long anecdotal writing is my way of expressing what a liberal arts education means to me; it is seeking to understand what makes us human, knowing that we are far more complex than just "inherently good" or "inherently bad.” My liberal arts education allowed me to see the world from other people's eyes, even those who had bullied me years before. Psychology has helped me understand, although not necessarily justify, the myriad ways in which people behave, and, as a result, I have become a more tolerant individual who realizes nothing in life is black or white, but that our world exists in a variety of grey scales. And that complexity is, in my opinion, the beauty of human nature.

I found inspiration from pretty much every faculty member I interacted with at New Paltz. Everyone in the psychology department is simply so passionate about research. That being said, there are two faculty members whose strengths I have tried to incorporate into my academic career. First is Dr. Glenn Geher's ease to create new networks at conferences and other events. His ability to meet new people is enviable. He's always extremely friendly, which helps students with him feel more at ease. Many of the connections I formed as an MA were thanks to Glenn introducing me to the right people. Secondly is Dr. Doug Maynard's statistical skills. Doug is the professor I aim to be. He makes his classes interesting and fun while still challenging students, and he has a natural ability to explain statistics in terms that are easy to understand. I have sent him the occasional statistics question via email even after having graduated!

September 2018

Richard H. Holler ‘17g (Psychology)

Richard HollerDoctoral Student at Oakland University

I am entering my second year as a doctoral student at Oakland University study evolutionary psychology under the tutelage of Lisa LM Welling. At Oakland University, I am 1) also involved in a 'human-computer interaction (HCI) lab' that is currently aiming to reduce sexual violence among users of online dating platforms and 2) teaching research methods in the “Behavioral Sciences” and “Introductory Psychology” courses. Additionally, I serve as a recruiter for BrightStar Care and am an associate editor for the Journal of the Evolutionary Studies Consortium.

Since its inception by the ancient Greeks, the liberal arts has been one of the most well-rounded curricula that serves as a powerful means to a true education. In acquiring Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees, I was exposed to a variety of academic disciplines that ultimately served as my foundation for my current specialization in evolutionary psychology (EP). EP is one of the most disciplinary-unifying fields in academia today and demands collaboration across fields like psychology, biology, economics, and philosophy. Like the modern and steady growth of the liberal arts today, the growth of EP is accelerating across academia. I am fortunate that the demand for evolutionary psychologists in academia is on the rise today.

Without colleagues like Dr. Glenn Geher and Dr. Carol Vazquez, I would not have embodied the academic integrity that I carry with me today. "EP is a superpower" (John Tooby, 2018); it is like a navigational map given while roaming through an obscure forest. A strong liberal arts education gets a student to ask questions surrounding academic values. In a research project that I collaborated with Professor Geher on, we found evidence suggesting that many modern academics, interestingly, do not prioritize the advancement of pure knowledge over other academic values.  Just as the ancient Greeks perceived it, a true liberal arts education is, to me, a well-rounded curriculum that endeavors to both reduce academic parochialism and promote scientific advancement. Thank you SUNY New Paltz for sharing these merits with me!

June 2019

Alexandria Perry ’17 (Psychology)

Alexandria PerryVolunteer at Alzheimer’s Association

I am currently volunteering in the office of the Northeastern New York chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. This position entails helping out by putting together information packets containing education and resources related to the disease. My volunteering also includes traveling to various health fairs to hand out information, advocating for the rights of those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia at the New York State Capitol, and preparing for events and programs that occur regularly. I have also been certified in the “Memories in the Making” program, which uses art as a vehicle for communication when traditional methods are unavailable.

Both my psychology and sociology classes at New Paltz prepared me for my experience with volunteering at the Alzheimer’s Association. These classes provided me with the background of the cognitive aspect of Alzheimer’s disease and the stigma that accompanies the disease. It was also at New Paltz that I first became involved with the Alzheimer’s Association for my internship.

Having a liberal arts education has benefited my life and career by giving me a well-rounded background in a variety of subjects. I believe that experimenting with different subjects is what confirmed my decision to major in psychology. Prior to coming to college, I thought about a career in math or art, which changed to philosophy or English once I began taking classes. But once I entered the psychology world, I was hooked. I truly love the subject and if it weren’t for having a liberal arts education I may have never found this passion.

Two professors who most inspired me at my time in New Paltz are Dr. Alison Nash and Dr. Jonathan Raskin. Both of these psychology professors had a huge impact on why I chose to pursue a career in a psychology-related field. Before taking “Research Methods” with Dr. Nash, the thought of conducting any kind of research was incredibly unappealing. However, Dr. Nash’s broke down each step of a research project, which made it much easier to understand and, dare I say, enjoyable. After the class, I became one of Dr. Nash’s research assistants, and I got to put the techniques I learned into action. On a personal level, Dr. Nash inspires me to pursue a career and life that I truly love. Her passion for psychology and research, as well as subjects that go beyond the academic world, is evident in every role I’ve seen her in. This inspires me not to settle for a job or a lifestyle that doesn’t fully make me happy.

Dr. Raskin is another professor who shaped my life both in and after New Paltz. After taking two classes with Dr. Raskin in the same semester, on the same day, in the same classroom, I became comfortable with his style of teaching. It wasn’t until the class ended that I began working with Dr. Raskin as an assistant for his textbook project. This experience taught me the importance of attention to detail and patience, two qualities that are applicable to any future career. In addition, Dr. Raskin was my main advisor when it came to grad school and my life path following graduation. I knew I wanted to either go into counseling psychology or clinical social work but it wasn’t until Dr. Raskin sat down with me and went over the pros and cons of each path that I decided to pursue a master’s degree in social work. I am now happy to say that I will be attending SUNY Albany’s Master of Social Work Program in the fall, and I owe that to both Dr. Raskin and Dr. Nash.

May 2018

George Ramos ’06 (Psychology)

George Ramos

Psychotherapist, Mental Health Consultant and Ph.D. Student

I am a Mental Health Consultant at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. I consult with 13 schools in the Bronx on mental health issues related to the student body. My job is to connect the schools with resources and provide trainings to staff to ensure that we are meeting the mental health needs of students. I also have my own practice, In-Home Wellness Mental Health Counseling. I practice psychotherapy in the homes of my clients, most of whom are black and Latino families in the New York City and Westchester Country area. Additionally, I am pursuing a doctorate degree in Counselor Education and Supervision at the University of the Cumberlands. I hold a master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Nyack College, and I am a licensed Mental Health Counselor in New York State. 

During my time in New Paltz, I volunteered at the on-campus crisis hotline, Oasis, and the Rape and Sexual Assault hotline, Haven. These two experiences were the foundations of my counseling career. They are the underpinnings of any success I have had in this field.

My liberal arts education was pivotal in my professional and personal development. My ability to sample many disciplines with different professionals and a diverse student body provided me an opportunity to explore many different avenues. A liberal arts education is extremely important. I personally believe that the liberal arts are going to be much more important in the next 10 years. As artificial intelligence and quantum computing are on the rise, there will be less of a need for the hard sciences within human interaction, and a greater need in terms of creativity. Artificial intelligence is going to provide us with an amount of data we have never had before, however, we will need human creativity to make sense of that data and apply it. That is the definition of the liberal arts.

Psychology Department Professor Glenn Geher is a treasure at New Paltz. I took an introductory statistics course with him when I was an undergrad. I'm not proud of this, but I failed the course twice. I took it with him the third time and finally passed it. He NEVER gave up on me - ever!!

May 2017

Anthony Church ’07 (Psychology), '13g (MBA)

Anthony ChurchVice President of Client Services at Interact Marketing

I am involved in almost all aspects of running a digital marketing agency including sales, marketing, finance, HR, account management, and service operations from time to time. My studies at New Paltz were an important part of my success. My studies in psychology specifically help me in my daily interactions with sales prospects, employees, business associates, and clients. My studies in business helped me prepare for thinking critically about the decisions we have to make on a daily basis, conducting sales presentations, assessing the viability of different business plans, and familiarized me with basic business concepts any business owner or professional should know (balance sheets, market opportunities, etc.).

A liberal arts education offers you exposure to a variety of subjects and topics. This can be extremely valuable not only for your academic pursuits, which it enriches and makes more meaningful, but for your life pursuits as well. It is through this exposure that I discovered my love and passion for psychology. It helped me become a more well-rounded, critical-thinking, thoughtful person with a much more encompassing view of the world and its complexities.

Psychology Professor Giordana Grossi inspired me the most with her unmatched passion, enthusiasm, and seemingly limitless knowledge about psychology - particularly neuroscience. To this day, I have never heard someone speak so effortlessly and with so much scientific knowledge about anything. She effortlessly cited studies, their years of publication, and their authors and worked them seamlessly into her lectures.

October 2016

Connor Pierce ’14 (Psychology)

Connor PierceStudent in NYU Steinhardt’s Master’s program, Games for Learning

I recently was accepted into NYU Steinhardt's Masters of Science program, Games for Learning. The program is about understanding the psychological and educational impact video games have. I will learn to create, use and evaluate digital games for the specific purpose of learning in formal and informal settings. I was drawn to this program due to the work I did in my last year at New Paltz. I attended Professor Doug Maynard's psychology senior seminar in which we spent the semester studying the psychology of games (in any form, not just digital). It was hugely engrossing to me, as I had never even thought of connecting my interests in gaming with my academic studies before then. Doug invited me to perform game-based research the following semester, and once again I had an amazing time learning and exploring how the psychology field approached gaming - this time specifically observing board game behaviors. It was somewhere in between these two experiences that I realized I wanted to be involved in research like that, and soon after discovered NYU's program.

At New Paltz, I was able to grow and expand my critical thinking skills to better understand myself and my desired role in life. The college’s rich diversity of teachers and classes provided me with an important building block of knowledge and experience that will always be important to me, and will continue to help guide me in the future.

  April 2016

Jessica Gross ’12 (Industrial/Organizational Psychology)

Jessica GrossOrganizational Development Specialist for New York City Health and Hospital Corporation

I declared my major in Industrial/Organizational Psychology after taking a course with Professor Doug Maynard. My senior year, I was able to work with Professor Maynard on a research project involving career anxiety and graduating seniors. This allowed me to gain hands-on experience identifying a problem, collecting data, and analyzing the results. Although issues in the workplace might not always follow the same methodologies, this experience taught me how to identify problems and creatively think of ways to correct them, which can be used in any career setting.

While the psychology program itself gave me the groundwork and foundation to move toward a career I wanted, having a liberal arts background allowed me to broaden my resume by gaining experiences that allowed me to think creatively. Having a specialized degree might have been limiting in terms of what field I went into, whereas a liberal arts background allowed me to have solid learning experience, but also more flexibility in the career path I chose. After graduating from New Paltz, I went on to complete my Master’s in Industrial Organizational Psychology at Baruch College. I worked within recruiting and human resources while in graduate school, but most recently landed my ideal position as an Organizational Development Specialist for New York City Health and Hospital Corporation. In this position, I work as an internal consultant to identify organizational problems and develop solutions for clients throughout the facility.

New Paltz provided me with so many opportunities to learn and grow. I kept that passion for learning throughout my time in grad school, and continue to push toward new opportunities in my career. At New Paltz, I was always looking for the next project I could work on, the next group I could work with, so I was able to gain experience in all different areas. I’ve held on to that same ambition in my career; I’m always looking for ways I can improve my skills and learn from those around me. New Paltz’s psychology program, and the college as a whole, have great opportunities for students looking to learn and build their careers.  

  April 2016

Mandy Guitar ‘13g (Psychology)

Mandy GuitarDoctoral student in Biological Anthropology at Binghamton University

SUNY New Paltz was incredibly helpful in preparing me for applying to Ph.D. programs for a number of reasons. Most importantly, the research that I conducted while working in Dr. Glenn Geher’s lab resulted in many publications and was a major asset when applying to Ph.D. programs and competing for limited funding. This productivity was due in large part to the support and encouragement of Dr. Geher, who was an incredibly dedicated and effective advisor.

I am currently a doctoral student in Biological Anthropology at Binghamton University where I am conducting research in the area of reproductive health and ecology. One way that SUNY New Paltz was particularly helpful in preparing me for my doctoral program was by providing me with the opportunity to serve as a lab instructor for Research Methods for four semesters. This experience provided me with the benefit of becoming comfortable teaching and developing materials for the lab sections that I taught, as well as receiving a great deal of helpful one-on-one feedback about my teaching from my faculty advisors. If it were not for the commitment and additional effort put forth by professors such as Dr. Grossi, Dr. Nash, and Dr. Winograd, this experience would not have been as valuable in preparing me for future teaching assignments. Overall, the dedication from the faculty that I worked with during my time at SUNY New Paltz resulted in an exceptional education.

 April 2016