Alumni Stories

Erin Allison – Psychology BA – Class of 2015

Erin graduated from Marymount in 2015 with a BA in psychology. She currently works at Stanford University’s Concussion and Brain Performance Center as a Clinical Research Coordinator. In her work at Stanford, her team is looking at the relationship between state of the art eye-tracking tests and attention problems in individuals – especially athletes – who sustain a concussion. Her team is trying to establish the use of the eye-tracking goggles as a sideline tool to be used in real time on the field for concussion analysis in athletes. Marymount, and the psychology program in particular, helped prepare Erin for this job because she had opportunities as a student that allowed her to discover her passion for research and provided her with the knowledge and hands-on experience needed to be qualified for a job in research.
In the future, Erin would like to go to graduate school to get a doctorate in clinical psychology, and she hopes to work with veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She also wants to incorporate the use of therapy dogs into the treatment of PTSD in veterans, as well as work with the veteran’s families.
Erin’s advice for anyone considering a career in psychology or research would be to take advantage of all of the opportunities that Marymount has to offer. In her words, “Volunteering or doing an internship in a field of interest in can be extremely beneficial in narrowing down what you want to do as you get out of college and can help you network as well. Take advantage of the professors and advisors at Marymount because they have so much knowledge and experience that can help you get where you want to be after college. Whether it is getting into graduate schools, getting an internship, or getting a job, the psychology faculty members have so much to offer to help you get to the next step in your education or career.”

Tamika Archer – Psychology BA – Class of 2012

Tamika graduated in 2012 with a BA in psychology, and she is currently pursuing her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Marymount.  She transferred to Marymount as an undergraduate without having any mentors or professors to guide her, but this changed at Marymount.  Tamika credits every professor in her undergraduate term with challenging her, guiding her, and helping her lay out the path to her future.  One of Tamika’s most challenging classes was Learning and Cognition, where the professor taught her so much about analytical thinking, digging deeper, and taking responsibility for her own learning.  Her academic advisor, who stays in touch with Tamika, helped her sort out her desires, abilities, and weaknesses.  That assistance guided her to become a Mental Health Counselor.
Tamika also found that being active on Student Activities Board at Marymount allowed her to be creative, expand her leadership skills, and enjoy being a non-traditional, commuter student.  In this role, Tamika was able to mentor some of the incoming freshmen and learn from some of the best people in her current field.  Tamika has the following advice for current students:  “Find a mentor and latch on to them.  Collaborate with them and soak up their knowledge; they truly want to give it to you.  You must position yourself to succeed.  Advocate for yourself and never be afraid to ask questions, no matter how simple they may sound in your head.”

Johanna Hummel – Psychology BA – Class of 2014


Johanna is an alumna of Marymount University’s Psychology program where she instructed the introductory Psychology Lab courses and was also captain of the volleyball team. Currently, she is continuing her higher education at Marymount University’s Human Resource Management Master’s program. With one semester remaining and 4.0 GPA, she will complete her degree at the end of the summer semester with an additional 24 credits of experience in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. During her time pursuing her Master’s degree, has worked as the full-time Graduate Assistant for Marymount University’s Human Resource department where she has gained hands-on experience applying the concepts learned in her HR courses. Johanna largely attributes her success to the wonderful professors at Marymount who are always willing to go the extra mile to assist any student in need. She also credits the many rich opportunities and resources Marymount provides so students can take charge of their own unique learning experiences.

Emilia Larach – Psychology BA – Class of 2015


Emilia graduated from Marymount in May 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology and minors in Spanish and International Studies. As an Honors scholar, she had the opportunity to conduct independent research regarding global citizen identity development and was accepted to present her results at the NAFSA’s annual International Education Conference in Boston. She is currently working on revising this paper for publication in an international research and review journal. While at MU, Emilia cultivated an interest in teaching through several campus leadership positions. She worked as a writing consultant and peer tutor for three years and was selected by faculty her senior year to co-teach introductory psychology laboratories. One month after graduation, Emilia left America to work in English summer camps throughout Italy with students varying in age and ability. During that time, she relied on her training in developmental psychology to better relate to the children and was also able to improve her Italian proficiency while traveling between host families. After studying abroad for a semester in Spain, Emilia knew she wanted to return before pursuing a graduate degree. In September of 2015, she moved to Zaragoza, Spain, where she is currently working as an ESL educator for the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport. In this position, Emilia works directly with adolescents to improve their English fluency and develop their interest for language learning. While in Spain, she has also had the opportunity to lead after-school community groups for young girls and is studying Arabic. Her experiences in the states and abroad have pushed Emilia towards a Master’s in Social Work, which she will pursue when she returns to America. In the future, Emilia hopes to work with immigrant and refugee populations, as well as adolescents and families within the school system. In addition to the career development opportunities both on campus and in D.C., the extremely supportive faculty at Marymount allowed Emilia to fully explore her interests and grow personally, academically, and professionally. Because psychology is such a widely applicable field, she encourages prospective students to take advantage of electives and internships to investigate all the avenues down which a degree in the social sciences may lead them. In Emilia’s own words, “Don’t focus too narrowly on one career track and be open to the flexibility that a B.A. in psychology provides!”

Marjanne Kameka – Psychology BA – Class of 2013



Marjanne graduated from Marymount University in 2013, with a B.A. in Psychology and minor in Business Administration. Her time at Marymount was crucial in cultivating her love for psychology, and her work with Dr. Lopresti-Goodman was key in her academic pursuits and her personal development. In the summer of 2011, Marjanne and Dr. Lopresti-Goodman conducted observational research in Kenya on sanctuary-rescued chimpanzees who were exhibiting signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This experience sparked Marjanne’s curiosity about Africa and widened her interests in psychology to include mental health.
By finishing her undergraduate coursework early, Marjanne had time before graduate school to volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Montgomery County, Maryland. She also spent three weeks in Zimbabwe, volunteering at an orphanage and an HIV clinic.
Marjanne began the M.S. program in Couple and Family Therapy at the University of Maryland in 2014 and graduated in May of 2016. She spent her time in the program training as a therapist, with a specialization in family and couple dynamics. She is currently studying for the National Licensing Exam for Marriage and Family therapy and hopes to find a job working with couples and families.
As a personal project, Marjanne went home (Jamaica) during the summer of 2016, in the hopes of meeting with the newly formed Board of Psychology to discuss the state of mental health across the country. Ultimately, Marjanne wants to help de-stigmatize mental health issues back home and start a program where schools are expected to have a trained counselor on staff.

Chelsea Ritter – Psychology BA – Class of 2014

Ritter_1.pngChelsea is currently earning her Ph.D. in School Psychology at the University of Cincinnati. In her first year at UC, Chelsea implemented academic and behavioral interventions to Kindergarteners in urban schools and and engaged in five different research projects with faculty and peers, working towards her goal to conduct research and teach psychology at a Research I university. While at Marymount, Chelsea started as a communications major, but changed to Psychology after taking PSY 101. Chelsea was a member of the Honors program and worked with Dr. Stacy Lopresti-Goodman as a research assistant. Her work with Dr. Lopresti-Goodman led to a publication and a desire to pursue research as a career choice. Chelsea’s advice for current MU students is to be open to all opportunities and experiences. In Chelsea’s own words:  “I love what I am doing. I know that I am doing the right thing with my life and the experiences I am getting are incredible. All of these experiences and skills that I have are because of professors at Marymount who took the time to talk to me inside and outside of class and write detailed feedback on all of my assignments. I cannot stress enough that Marymount prepared me so much for this Ph.D. program.”

Melanie Sandoval – Psychology BA – Class of 2009

Melanie’s degree: BA in Psychology; minors in Criminal Justice and Mathematics
Melanie’s job: Co-CEO, Bright Life Community Wellness; Adjunct Faculty for Early Education and Child Development, Community College of Allegheny County

Melanie believes her experiences at Marymount allowed her to explore all of her interests and develop a wide variety of skills that benefit her in her current positions. In addition to taking rigorous courses to earn a BA in Psychology and minors in Criminal Justice and Mathematics, she worked closely with several members of the Psychology and Mathematics departments to complete a variety of research projects, teaching her how to think critically and strengthen her writing and public speaking abilities. She also served as an undergraduate peer tutor at the Learning Resource Center, which helped Melanie find her passion for working with students. Furthermore, her active participation with and leadership positions for numerous student organizations also cemented her desire to work with others to bring about positive changes for the community at large.
After graduating from Marymount, Melanie worked with researchers at the National Institutes of Health (Child and Family Research lab) and Carnegie Mellon University on projects related to early childhood development, acculturation, and mathematics education. She then went on to earn a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Elementary Education from the University of Pittsburgh, leading to experiences working with several school districts in the Pittsburgh area. Most recently, Melanie completed a certificate in Early Education and Child Development from the Community College of Allegheny County, where she now serves as an Adjunct Faculty member.
The post-Marymount project that Melanie is most proud of is the creation of Bright Life Community Wellness, a Pittsburgh-area non-profit she co-founded with her husband, Stephen Weiss. While still in its initial stages, she hopes to bring about lasting changes for low-income families and their children by supporting their academic achievement, physical health, and social-emotional well-being. Currently, Bright Life has teamed with His Place (another Pittsburgh-area non-profit) to address the problem of toxic stress by creating a nurturing environment that provides children and their families with the tools to develop evidence-based stress reduction strategies. Melanie credits her experiences at Marymount for preparing her for this endeavor.
Melanie’s advice to current and prospective college students is to take time to build a relationship with the faculty and staff. They are all absolutely wonderful people who can be your greatest supporters throughout your time at Marymount and beyond. Melanie also believes that students should take chances and not worry about making “mistakes”. Instead, view “mistakes” as opportunities to learn and grow.