Clark University’s legacy in the social sciences dates back to its founding, when renowned psychologist G. Stanley Hall was named Clark’s first president.
The American Psychological Association was launched here; Sigmund Freud delivered his only lectures outside of Europe at Clark; and the research of Clark-trained psychologists has played a critical role in revealing the complexities of human behavior.
Clark’s tradition of accomplishment in psychology was given a contemporary voice on March 28, when ClarkCONNECT hosted a panel of alumni, who offered current students a glimpse into where their Clark psychology degrees have taken them professionally and personally. The event concluded with a networking reception that provided students and other attendees an opportunity to speak with the participants individually and connect as a community over shared interests.
The panelists were:
Kenneth Chase ’92, Ph.D., vice president at IQVIA Consulting Services, specializing in holistic biopharma, health care, and life sciences strategy.
- Melinda Hillock ’81, LICSW, MSW, a licensed clinical social worker providing outpatient psychotherapy to veterans at the Springfield Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Springfield, Mass.
- Jennifer Stapel-Wax ’92, Psy.D, associate professor in the Division of Autism and Related Disorders in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine.
- Caitlin Straubel ’10, LMHC, a licensed mental health clinician who specializes in working with gender-variant youth and their families, as well as families coping with trauma and loss.
- Robert Weinstein ’81, Ph.D., co-founder of the Main & Weinstein Specialty Group LLC, a private practice in West Hartford, Conn., focusing on the treatment of eating disorders and associated women’s health issues.
James Córdova, professor of psychology at Clark, and chair of ClarkCONNECT’s psychology community, introduced the event by emphasizing the value of building relationships through ClarkCONNECT. Then, in a wide-ranging session moderated by Esteban Cardemil, associate professor of psychology at Clark, the alumni described their journeys from the Clark classroom to careers as clinicians, researchers, and entrepreneurs. The questions were geared to supply the psychology students in the audience perspectives about potential career paths and practical insight about everything from a typical day on the job to managing work-life balance.
Melissa Hillock talked of treating post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans ranging from an 85-year-old veteran of the Korean War to soldiers in their twenties returning from recent conflicts. Earlier in her career she thought she’d focus on working with teenagers, but found herself drawn to the issues besetting military veterans. “It’s okay if you don’t know what you want to do right away,” she said. “But be passionate.”
Dr. Chase said much of his work week is spent meeting with clients domestically as well as in Europe, South America, and Asia, and delivering on “large projects” involving therapies and pharmaceuticals. He acknowledged a desire to return to private practice one day, saying, “I would love to see more patients.” Chase noted that while the students’ career trajectories aren’t locked in, they can apply their psychology skills to be successful in the field of their choosing.
Caitlin Straubel recalled how Clark “stressed the importance of community and connection.”
“Clark allows you to try new things, see what works, and not be afraid,” she said. Straubel urged the students to seek out volunteer opportunities at Worcester-area organizations like Children’s Friend and You Inc., which offer counseling services to children and teens.
While he works largely in the business side of health care, Dr. Weinstein credited his Clark psychology professors for teaching him “how to think through complex issues of mind and emotion.” That foundation has served him well as he develops, manages, and delivers treatment strategies at hospitals in the Hartford area. “Organizing the business end helps us do the clinical work more smoothly,” he said.
Dr. Stapel-Wax cited Clark’s academic rigor and diverse community with helping prepare her for a career in clinical practice, neuropsychological research, and graduate-level teaching. She described herself as a “bridge builder,” who works with different constituencies to address complex problems. Before heading to the networking reception, Stapel-Wax lauded the implementation of ClarkCONNECT, saying she would be happy to take a phone call or respond to an email from a Clark student, and would be willing to connect students to others in the field.