Beginnings in Psychology – Not Just for College Students Anymore

by · February 23, 2015

Hello! My name is Daria Sullivan, and I am a sophomore majoring in Counseling Psychology. I personally got my beginnings in psychology in high school. I have always thought like a psychologist, though I did not realize this until senior year in high school. I have always been empathetic, with a passion for helping other people. My mother had a huge influence on my decision, too; she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology as well.

At the Mount, I’ve had classes and professors who have assisted me greatly. My favorite class within the major is Abnormal Psychology, where we focus on human abnormalities. This includes disorders like bipolar, depression, and PTSD, and all of their treatments, particularly why some work and others do not. In addition, while taking Developmental Psychology with Dr. Amanda Maynard, I was challenged by her tests and papers, yet felt like I learned so much. I do not think I would have the interest I have today in psychology without having her as a teacher. She pushed me in a way that I do not believe any other teacher has and truly wanted all of her students to succeed.

MSMC has such great opportunities for psychology majors. As a sophomore, I am completing my first internship, volunteering with psychology programs on campus, and can participate in research over the summer. All of this practice not only familiarizes me with the field, but also prepares me for my future jobs.

Right: Daria Sullivan, coordinator of Beginnings in Psychological Science (BIPS), teaches a young boy about the human brain during a BIPS session.

One way that I’ve been able to put my psychology skills to practice is through the Beginnings in Psychological Science program here at the Mount. As a coordinator for this program, I have the opportunity not only to study psychology here at the Mount, but also to teach the subject to children in the Newburgh area.

This project was spearheaded by Mount Professor Dr. Kalkstein and is now coordinated by several students in the Social Sciences Division. Here is what one of our instructors, Elizabeth Lavin, has said about the program:

“Beginnings in Psychological Science (BIPS) is a program that started this past fall. In BIPS, our team organizes lesson plans that involve the foundations of psychology. With these lesson plans, we then travel to elementary schools around the area and teach children basic fundamentals of psychology. These lesson plans range from comparing our brains to animals’, the variety of senses that we all have, and even learning about our different emotions.

I got involved with BIPS last semester for multiple reasons. First, I viewed BIPS as a wonderful opportunity to share my love for psychology with younger children. When I was their age, I had no idea about different parts of the brain and how our senses connect to one another. Being able to open up doors to a whole different perspective of our brain to younger children is a feeling I’ll cherish forever.

In addition, from a “looking ahead” standpoint, I saw BIPS as something that can give me experience for a possible career. Gaining the hands-on experience with children enlightened me as to whether or not I work well with them. After a semester of being a part of BIPS, I can definitely see myself working with kids ages 3-10 in the future.

The excitement I feel when I know I am going to a classroom in an upcoming week for BIPS is something unexplainable. There is just something about seeing younger students interact with one another about a topic I am passionate about that makes me blissful. Even having the teachers become interested in our lessons and wanting us to come back is an amazing feeling. Seeing all the hard work and effort we put into lesson plans be paid off by the students’ smiles is a reward every person should experience.”

As Elizabeth said, “Anyone should consider themselves lucky to be a part of such an incredible team.” Personally, my experience with BIPS has been amazing and I am so glad that I am involved. If you would like to learn more, or get started with BIPS as a student instructor in the fall, please visit: beginningsinpsych.msmc.edu

Psychology is a very difficult field. It takes a lot of work and a certain mindset. People either hate it or love it, and from my experience, there is no in between. If you love it, stick with it! It is so rewarding.


Daria Sullivan, Class of 2017, is a Counseling Psychology major from Sparta, NJ.
Elizabeth Lavin, Class of 2017, is a Psychology major from Long Island, NY.