Teresa Herzog '91
WHAT I'M DOING NOW
Graduating with a BA in psychology from Edgewood College in 1991, I went on to obtain my PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Montana. My area of specialization is socioemotional behavior with an emphasis on outcomes associated with early risk exposure.
I now teach psychology to undergraduate and graduate students at Francis Marion University in Florence, South Carolina.
HOW I DECIDED ON A PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR
I did not have a specific major in mind. The summer I registered at Edgewood, I did not have a specific major in mind. In fact, I said as much to the very nice young woman helping me in Admissions.
At that time, I was on hiatus from a protracted college career that could truly be described as a "ten-year plan." My intention at that time was to move to the Dominican Republic to implement the dismal idea of manufacturing piece goods. Before beginning, I was waiting for the completion of a boutique space, a place to sell the manufactured clothing, in a wind-surfing resort on the north coast of the island. It was my very wise mother who had suggested that I go back to school while I waited.
I believe on that warm summer afternoon, I said "Put me in business, or maybe Spanish." The very nice young woman excused herself with my transcript in hand and appeared some minutes later, recommending a degree in psychology.
I heard later that she had gone off down the deserted corridor to seek advice and asked at the first open door, that of Dr. Joan Schilling. I'm not certain whether Dr. Schilling actually said "Put her in psychology; she has enough social science credits to choke a horse" but that is the version in my memory.
"This is it. This is what I have always wanted to study and do." What amazed me at the time was that I had arrived back at my very first major; one that I had abandoned years before as not fulfilling my desire to study the most interesting of human behaviors: social interaction and emotion.
Still more amazing was that, within the first week of classes, I had a bona fide epiphany experience. I recall my attention drifting from lecture to think "This is it. This is what I have always wanted to study and do." The decision to pursue a career in higher education was implicit in the recognition that I wanted to take the adventure I had discovered at Edgewood as far as I could.
WHAT PSYCHOLOGY MAJORS CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR THEIR CAREERS
Of course, there are strategic undergraduate experiences that will advance a psychology career, whatever that happens to be. Edgewood provided some key experiences that I maximized for all they were worth.
First of all: Research and the senior thesis. Although many students balk, just as I did, at a focus on statistics and the seeming narrowness of the scientific method, I came to realize that these are the most expedient tools for getting Nature to reveal her secrets. I promise you, when you answer an important question that you have posed using these implements, your excitement will make the DaVinci Code seem a trip to the DMV.
Second: Practicum. My placements for this requirement were formative. For the first time, I had to translate text and lecture abstractions into behavior in real-time, all while exploring how to forge relationships and alliances with both professionals and clients. I was surprised by my weakness and pleased with my strengths. These experiences both helped me to understand that I was a behavioral scientist (i.e., not a helping professional) at heart and to hold my clinical colleagues in high esteem.
Third: Faculty. The single most important factor in formulating a vision of a future in psychology was the model provided by the psychology faculty at Edgewood College. I could see that they could see a "me" that I couldn't see. And because they were (as good parents are described by at least one developmental theorist) kinder, wiser, and stronger, I trusted that I would 'get there.' This model not only provided the engine for my own academic pursuits, but has been a foundation for teaching.