May 5, 2023

Student to Faculty Member: Graduate School Alumni After Graduation

Student in cap and gown for graduation

The work that we do in the psychology department is focused on having a long-term impact. Mentoring graduate students is no exception. The time spent within the psychology department is intended to prepare our students for their future careers and give them all of the tools to be successful leaders in the field of psychology. Many of our recent graduates now find themselves in faculty positions around the country teaching the future generation of psychologists, researchers, and professors.

Recent graduate from our Behavioral Analysis department, Dr. Renee Renda is an assistant professor and will be teaching an Introductory Behavior Analysis course while mentoring students in completing an instructional practicum this fall. Renda is also in the process of building an animal lab with her colleagues for Jacksonville State University in Alabama. Renda credits the teaching opportunities available at USU in helping ease the transition into a first-year faculty member.

Another graduate from the BA program, Dr. Ann Galizio, is now an assistant professor at Middle Tennessee State University. At MTSU, Galizio teaches both undergraduate and graduate students, and is beginning several research projects related to autism spectrum disorder. Galizio also spoke highly of her experiences at USU reflecting on the “excellent research mentorship, which prepared me to conduct my own research and establish my own laboratory.”

Dr. Lester Papa, a graduate from the Combined Clinical Counseling program, is at San Jose State University teaching classes in Child Psychology and Crisis and Trauma Counseling. In addition to these courses, Papa is conducting research on microaggressions, clinical consultations, and supporting student organizations. Papa expresses his gratitude for the teaching experiences that came from USU, “it really helped me gain valuable skills for working with children, adolescents, and families.”

For students who are interested in moving into faculty roles after graduation, our alumni had a few recommendations. Lesther Papa encourages students to, “Make your interests and ambitions known! You have to put in the work to really get to know yourself first and be honest about what you want and who you want to be.” Ann Galizio advises students to get as much teaching and research experience as possible. She also encourages students to “ask lots of questions during interviews, and make sure their [employers] expectations match your goals.” Lastly, Renee Renda urges students to “Diversity your experiences. If you haven’t taught or served as a lab manager, take on those positions before you graduate.” Get involved with areas of study outside of your routines and push yourself to grow.

Renda also recommends, “before you leave USU, go for one last hike and dine at all the best local spots.” Many of our alumni move across the globe and continue to teach and learn at different universities, but they will always be a part of the USU community.