Alumni speak in series of Hindsight

Montgomery Blair, Writer

On Jan. 29 the NEIU psychology department hosted the first in an event series titled Hindsight 2020, featuring NEIU alumni speaking on post-graduation options. This is not the department’s first alumni event series but is first to have each date themed. The Jan. 29 event was about masters and doctorate programs. The second event–scheduled for Feb. 24–is expected to feature alumni who are in or have completed social work or counseling programs. The third and last of the semester is currently scheduled for March 25 and will showcase alumni who have gone to work with their NEIU degrees.

Dr. Linda Rueckert and Dr. Amanda Dykema-Engblade organized the event series. Dykema-Engblade, chair of the psychology department, has indicated that Hindsight 2020 will continue into the fall semester. She stated, “Our alumni want to share their experiences. After sending the invitation to the mailing list–provided by the Office of Alumni Relations–we had more alumni interest than had availability for the panels.”

Jan. 29 featured seven speakers and was kicked off with Dr. Antonio Champion, who currently works as a psychologist and social worker at a state agency that provides counseling to those afflicted with blindness or other visual impairment. He completed his master’s in Clinical Social Work from Loyola University in 2009 and earned a doctorate in Community Psychology from National Louis University. Champion emphasized the importance of staying humble and always continuing to learn. Early in his remarks he said, “even though you have your bachelor’s in psychology, you have to go all the way to getting your PsyD or PhD to put some use to it.”

Dr. Michael Fleischer who works as an instructor at NEIU, College of Lake County and Elmhurst College completed both his master’s and his doctorate in Psychology from IIT. Fleischer encouraged those in attendance to keep practicing school related material after completing undergrad, to find fulfilling work that utilizes one’s degree and visit conferences for networking opportunities. When discussing his own path to grad school, Fleischer said, “If you have your little hiccups in life and you have that year off, as long as you keep your fingers in it and don’t completely fall off what you’re doing, you’ll be alright. It shows you have initiative.”

There were more speakers that followed which included Jared Needham who is currently working on this doctorate at California Lutheran University.  His focus is on diet and its association with mental health. Jason Snyder is currently enrolled at DePaul University in a dual degree program in Psychological Science. His research is on the effect of social comparisons on social media. 

Hanna Valdiviejas is currently enrolled in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and studying Educational Psychology. Following Valdiviejas was Lynda Gibson who after graduating NEIU went on to Dallas where she is now finishing her internship. The last speaker was Amanda Brown who is currently enrolled at the University of Chicago.

One theme consistently mentioned during the event was how grateful the speakers were for the quality of their education at NEIU and how supportive the faculty is, with Brown saying, “Anyone in the psychology department will bend over backwards for students and alumni. I’m so grateful for how supportive the NEIU staff is.”

Students in psychology or social work programs are encouraged to attend the next two Hindsight 2020 events of this semester. Even those who are not studying psychology are invited and may find the information and experiences that alumni bring beneficial.