Masters Graduates

Spotlight on Success

Julia Drizin, M.A. (Physical and Mental Health Emphasis) just entered her second year of doctoral studies in public health at Oregon State University. She published her first-authored thesis-based manuscript on college women’s responses to a celebrity health disclosure in the journal, Health Communication. Julia was mentored by Drs. Malcarne and Wells.
Shelley Condon, M.A.  (Physical and Mental Health Emphasis)  is just starting her second year of the PhD program in Clinical Geropsychology at the University of Alabama.  She just submitted her first-authored manuscript describing the findings of her master’s thesis to the Journal of Health Psychology. Here she is, presenting her research at a conference.
Jerlyn Tolentino

Jerlyn Tolentino, M.A. (Behavioral Neuroscience Emphasis) – I am a Clinical Research Coordinator for the Gleeson Laboratory for Developmental Neurogenetics on the University of California, San Diego campus. The laboratory is focused on the identification of the genetic causes of recessive neurological impairments and brain malformations, such as mental retardation, epilepsy, microcephaly, and lissencephaly. My role is to identify children with these conditions and to obtain their clinical and radiological information in order to confirm the diagnosis and manage a clinical database of over 900 patients. I am also involved in the isolation of DNA from blood or saliva samples, as well as the preparation of NIH grants and manuscripts for publication. The Master’s program at San Diego State University prepared me for my role as a clinical coordinator because classes such as Advanced Neuropsychology and Development of Language provided me with a solid background of the brain and the developmental process. Additionally, my research assistantship in Dr. Paul Gilbert’s lab provided the valuable experience of managing and coordinating a clinical study independently.
LaurieBrenner Laurie A. Brenner, M.A. (Behavioral Neuroscience Emphasis) – I entered the Clinical Psychology program at the University of California , Los Angeles (UCLA) in the fall of 2006. I am specializing in pediatric neuropsychological assessment and the neuroscience of developmental psychopathology, with particular emphasis on visual attention in autism, ADHD and 22q Deletion Syndrome. An additional focus for me is the use of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for anxiety disorders.One of the primary ways in which the Master’s program at San Diego State University (SDSU) prepared me for doctoral work in clinical psychology was by giving me the support and training necessary for independent research. The experience I gained at SDSU in design, implementation and analysis of a research project has contributed to my efficiency and productivity as a doctoral student. Also, the many opportunities at SDSU to meet and speak with professors, students and professionals doing both research and clinical work helped me to focus my interests and to determine the best way for me to achieve my career goals.
NicoleCrocker Nicole Crocker, M.A. (Behavioral Neuroscience Emphasis) – I am currently a first year doctoral student in the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology. I work under the mentorship of Dr. Sarah Mattson studying the cognitive and behavioral effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol and other drugs and toxins. I am broadly interested in the neurobehavioral mechanisms underlying various developmental disorders and hope to remain in the field pediatric neuropsychology throughout my career.Before entering the joint doctoral program I completed a Master’s degree in psychology at San Diego State University. My experience as a Master’s student was invaluable in helping shape my research interests and career goals as well as providing me with the appropriate research experience needed to be accepted into a doctoral program. The time spent in my research placement and the process of writing my Master’s thesis was incredible preparation for the future challenge of doctoral work and I feel as though I could never have been as well equipped for graduate study had I not completed the Master’s program at SDSU.

Yuri Kashima, M.A. (Developmental Emphasis) – Currently I’m a grad student at Indiana University (Bloomington) studying to get my PhD in School Psychology.  I’m now in my second year, and am enjoying taking courses, getting hands-on experience in the schools through various practicum placements, and working at an education policy center on campus. My days are super-busy (especially now that I have a dog!), but I feel that I came into the program prepared, mainly because I knew to some degree what to expect out of graduate school. My experience in the psychology program at SDSU has helped me the most in preparing me for a PhD program. It was at SDSU where I got to really experience what being a grad student was like, from the types of research opportunities you can have, to realizing what hard work and commitment it takes to attaining a graduate degree.

NoraGraceAwkerman Nora Grace Awkerman, M.S. (Industrial/Organizational Emphasis) – After graduating from SDSU with a M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, I moved to the Washington , DC -Metro area and work as a Senior Research Associate at PDRI, an I/O consulting firm. In my work with PDRI, I primarily work with large government agencies conducting job analyses, focus groups, needs assessments, customizing training solutions, and developing organizational interventions for a range of organizational issues. I attribute the balanced I and O perspectives taught in SDSU’s program, the internship, thesis, and lab experiences, and the dedicated faculty to my success in the workplace.
Cindy Huang Cindy Huang Vissering, M.A. (M.A. Physical and/or Mental Health Research) – After graduating from SDSU, I started the Ph.D. program in Counseling Psychology at the University of Oregon . My current research interests include cultural factors, such as ethnic identity and acculturation, and their impact on the mental health of ethnic minority youth and adolescent populations. The research training and mentoring I received from SDSU were invaluable to my development as a psychologist-in-training, it prepared me for acceptance into a doctoral program, and has thoroughly prepared me for the demands of doctoral studies!
VanessaSawicki Vanessa Sawicki, M.A. (Social Emphasis) – In 2007, I received my master’s degree in psychology at SDSU. Currently, I am doctoral student at Purdue University working with Dr. Duane Wegener. My research broadly centers on attitudes, persuasion, and social cognition. Specifically, I seek to examine the variables that affect the amount as well as the nature of information processing. Some recent topics of interest include the role of ambivalence and confidence in selective exposure as well as the moderating effects of attitude strength in dissonance reduction.My experiences at SDSU not only helped me achieve my goal of acceptance into a Ph.D. program, they also gave me the tools I need to succeed at Purdue.  Working with Dr. Radmila Prislin provided the groundwork for my career in research by offering hands-on experience in every step of the research process. In addition to my master’s thesis, I was involved with a variety of projects that resulted in several conference poster presentations as well as a manuscript that is currently under review at a top social psychology journal. It was this experience in Dr. Prislin’s lab that not only gave me the skills I need to succeed as a researcher but also made me highly competitive as a doctoral applicant. In addition to the invaluable research experience, I also gained experience as a teacher and as a graduate student. All 4 semesters at SDSU, I taught PSY 271, instructing undergraduates about statistical analyses in SPSS. Meanwhile, as a student, I took seminar classes that broadened and enhanced my knowledge of general psychology as well as advanced statistics.  In fact, several of my courses, especially statistics, transferred over at Purdue. All in all, going to SDSU was one of the best decisions I have ever made. For anyone who is considering a Ph.D. program but wants to gain research focus and experience, I strongly recommend applying to the psychology masters program at SDSU.