Alumni Success Stories
By Daphna Ozery, former student in the Department of Educational Psychology & Counseling’s Development, Learning, Instruction, and Evaluation Program
On March 12, 1941, Amalia and Dr. Schulim (Salomon) Juda Gewurz from Vienna, Austria, were deported to Treblinka, an extermination camp in Poland, where they perished shortly after. My grandfather, Dr. Gewurz, was a prominent professor before his life and academic career ended so tragically. Seven decades later, in 2010, I received my M.A. with honors in the Development, Learning, Instruction, and Evaluation (DLI & E) Program from the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education. Soon after, I was accepted to the Ph.D. program in Applied Cognitive Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, where I also serve as Research Associate. In my second year, I was appointed as part-time faculty in the same department from which I graduated in the Eisner College at CSUN. This represents a full circle for two reasons: I am continuing the academic path of my late grandfather, and I am returning to what I call my second home, the DLI & E department.
During my two years in the M.A. program, I received wonderful mentorship and guidance from Dr. Adele Gottfried, and I expanded my knowledge of Educational Psychology with every class completed in the program. Being Dr. Gottfried’s student, her T.A., and assistant to the College’s grant officer, I gained the research and academic skills that would pave the way to a doctoral program and, most dear to my heart, teaching graduate students.
Having immigrated from Israel almost 12 years ago with four small children who did not know a word in English, I have come a long way. My years in the DLI & E program enhanced my passion for academic research and teaching and provided me with valuable insight into the diversity of the immigrant population in the U.S. in general and California in particular. This has greatly affected my decision to concentrate on cognition and culture in the Ph.D. program, where I conduct research on the role of culture in processing information and making decisions. In a few weeks I will be presenting my research on cognitive processing of biculturals at the American Psychology-Law Society conference and will submit it for publication.
Reflecting back on my academic career and looking at what the future may hold, I am very proud to be part of the Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling and the Michael D. Eisner College of Education, and I wish to extend a warm thank you to Dean Michael Spagna, to Dr. Shari Tarver Behring, and to Dr. Carolyn Jeffries.
By Patrick Geary, former student in the Department of Educational Psychology Counseling and currently Head Counselor at Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita
Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival. René Dubos
It took me quite a few years to find out where I belonged, and at age 37, I moved from the East Coast to California in search of a new vocation. Luckily, my interests and the CSUN School Counseling program were converging at that time. I was fortunate to be accepted for the first year of Transforming Leadership in School Counseling and even more blessed to become Assistant to the project director, Dr. Charles Hanson, who mentored me throughout my three years and beyond. I vividly recall being equally overwhelmed by the demands of graduate school and enthralled by the progressive thinking that prompted my reflective learning. I also gained valuable experience presenting at state and national conferences.
Enrolling in Advanced Psychological Foundations of Education, I came across a fascinating research project called Bridging Cultures. Understanding that the framework of individualism often clashes with the collectivistic culture of many students attending school in Los Angeles helped clarify countless cultural misunderstandings. It transformed my perspective and became the context for my thesis regarding how Latino students may be motivated by different kinds of incentives from more mainstream students.
Upon graduation from CSUN in 2001, I was very lucky to be hired at Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, an innovative K-12 charter school of 2,000 students guided by Dr. Yvonne Chan. With a student-body that is 97% Latino, I was using my Bridging Cultures skills from day one! I have changed schools and now work a few miles from my home at Golden Valley High School in Santa Clarita where Principal Sal Frias has steered our nine-year-old school to improve every year. I still remain on the Board of Directors for the Vaughn Foundation, an organization that has raised money to support international awareness and an exchange program with schools in China.
Shortly after earning my degree, I had the opportunity to teach a class in the School Counseling program at CSUN. I have taught one class each semester since the fall of 2001. Overall, I have had the privilege and honor of mentoring other counselors in a variety of settings, teaching interns, and working with the next generation of school counselors.
Finally, I have to mention that in 2001, Dr. Rothstein-Fisch asked me to assist another College of Education student with a thesis that was similar to mine. Of course I helped. And, I’ve been helping that student ever since, because she became my beloved wife in 2004!
While some people may breeze in and out of a graduate school experience, my life has forever been changed as a result of my relationship with CSUN. What has been gained? Four jobs, ten professional presentations, and one wife! As a member of the part-time faculty, I am nearing my 12th anniversary at CSUN with no end in sight!