Psychological Science Alumni Stories
Career Options With a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology
Just a Few of the Many Options Available
- School Psychologist
- Director of Health Policy
- Forensic Psychologist
- Pediatric Neuropsychologist
- Appellate Attorney
- Academic Advisor
- Treatment Director
- U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services
- Assistant Director of Programming and Student Organizations
Molly Salisbury - Assistant Director of Programming and Student Organizations
I currently work as the Assistant Director of Programming and Student Organizations at Creighton. I work with the Creighton Students Union Program Board and over 200 student organizations on campus. My responsibilities range from supporting students in their extra-curricular pursuits to managing University policies as it relates to student organizations.
Ways a BA in Psychology helped me:
My undergraduate degree in Psychology helps me on a basic level understand or seek to learn more about people?s motivations and how their life experiences shape their behavior. When I work with college students or colleagues, I want to get to know them on a personal level which makes our working relationship richer. I think my experience in various psychology classes taught me to look beyond just how a person is behaving and to look deeper into why that behavior might occur.
When transitioning from undergrad to post-grad, I knew that I wasn?t interested in pursuing a degree in counseling or in psychology research, but I wanted to find something I was interested in that I could apply what I learned in a career that I was passionate about. I decided to pursue a Masters in Higher Education Administration in Student Affairs. I was able to take what I learned in my undergrad and apply it to working with college students.
Carrie Barton - 2012 Graduate
Treatment Director at Advantage Treatment Center, Inc.
I have five CAC II or higher (one LPC) and five registered psychotherapists that work under my supervision at Advantage Treatment Center. ATC-Sterling is a community corrections/inpatient drug/alcohol treatment program. I coordinate all of the inpatient clients as well as the treatment for all outpatient/”half-way house” clients. I facilitate groups and handle problem situations with staff and clients. I also manage all clinical documentation. Another piece of this position is receiving and making decisions on referrals with contracting agencies such as probation, department of corrections, or parole. This consists of whether or not a client is suited for the program and the program is suited for the potential client. I make final decisions on whether or not a client is progressing or wasting a bed. I never dreamt I would be where I am now, but I am fulfilled with my career path each day and extremely grateful.
Undergraduate Influence From Creighton:
1. Development as a person: I was always encouraged to love, accept, and be open-minded to everyone regardless of any diversity that was present. This was not only through word of mouth, but through shown action by the majority of my professors. It was a not a “bible-thumping” ideal that all “sinners” are accepted… It was simply all of humanity was accepted and supported within and outside of the Creighton walls by the Creightonians and I LOVE IT!
2. My education also taught me how to work extremely hard and learn for the sake of learning rather than “the grade.” Creighton inspired me to do everything I could, to learn everything I could, and to be the best person I could. These lessons and examples presented predominantly by the professors have ultimately assisted in developing who I am today.
Fabiola Roman - 2013 Graduate
Currently working at U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the Asylum Division in Anaheim, CA. Started out performing background checks for asylum petitioners pending asylum interview and using different government systems for searching and updating applicant’s information. I was able to get some experience on processing and scheduling of credible fear cases, which are case of people detained at the border and are claiming fear of returning to their home country. Most recently, I moved on to post-interview processing where I review applicant information to ensure completeness, accuracy, and compliance with regulations and procedures before transferring case to immigration court.
Some ways that undergrad helped me for the future was managing my time and prioritizing my work. It also opened my mind to other ways of thinking and understanding the world by being surrounded with people from different backgrounds and experiences.
Nathan Haecker - 2001 Graduate
Medical Director, Creighton University Student Health Services
BA, Psychology 2001, Creighton University
MD, 2005, Creighton University
Family Medicine Residency: Lincoln Medical Education Partnership, Lincoln, NE, 2008
My experience as a Creighton psychology major provided me with the perfect foundation for a career in medicine. I was able to select coursework that fit my interests and had the opportunity to participate as a teaching assistant. You couldn’t ask for a better pre-medicine major!
Karin Mussman - 2003 Graduate
District MTSS Facilitator (Multi-Tiered System of Supports), School Psychologist at Westside Community Schools
Graduation Year: 2003
Degree/institution from CU: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with an emphasis in Social Work
Degrees/institutions after CU: -Master of Science in School Psychology from University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) -Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) in School Psychology from UNO
How CU Psych Department helped me in my career:
I am forever grateful to the Creighton Psych department for opening my eyes to my current field of school psychology - through my advisor guiding me to try Ms. Deb Schwiesow's Intro to School Psychology course, then an undergraduate internship in the field of school psychology in Council Bluffs, and conversations with other professors, such as Dr. Laura Finken, encouraging me to explore this field. I am also grateful for the opportunities I had within the Creighton Psychology department that others from different institutions did not have, such as participating in research with a professor, completing an internship in my field, and having a Teaching Assistantship; I have learned that these are not necessarily a given at the undergraduate level. The coursework in the psychology department, in particular the certified writing classes, directed independent research, and honors seminar, were valuable in pushing me to work harder, think more deeply about the science of psychology, and prepare me for the workload of graduate studies. The coursework from Creighton Psychology created a solid foundation for me to build upon and use in my everyday career (and life).
Michael Odeh - 2004 Graduate
Director of Health Policy at Children Now, a California-based policy, research, and advocacy organization focused on children's well-being, covering the full range of key children's issues, including early childhood, education reform, children's health, foster care and juvenile justice.
CU graduation year: 2004
Degree after CU: Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University in 2006
My time at the CU Psychology Department taught me to be a critical, thorough organized, and analytic thinker and researcher. I also learned to be a clear and confident presenter of information, arguments, and data, especially as a written communicator. These are skills that have been very important as I've progressed in my career. In addition, the CU Psychology Department gave me really strong mentorship that challenged me academically and personally, prepared me to succeed in graduate school, and ultimately helped me succeed in a competitive and highly political field.
Valerie Gonsalves - 2004 Graduate
Psychology Manager for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Division of Community Corrections.
BA, Psychology 2004 , Creighton University
Master of Arts, Psychology 2007; Masters of Legal Studies 2009; and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology 2010, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Dr. Gonsalves has specialized in forensic psychology for the duration of her career after getting her first exposure to the unique field while assisting on a research project while she was at Creighton University. This experience peaked her interest and ultimately launched her career.
Elizabeth Heideman - 2004 Graduate
Job Title: Pediatric Neuropsychologist and Clinician Educator
Institution: NorthShore University HealthSystem and University of Chicago
Graduation year: 2004 from CU
Institutions: Marquette University M.S. 2007; Marquette University Ph.D. 2011
Internship: Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital 2010-2011
Fellowship: Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School 2011-2013
Board Certification: American Board of Professional Psychology-Clinical Neuropsychology 2016
The psych department at CU first piqued my interest in psychology. It was then through the mentorship of the faculty and various opportunities (e.g., research, networking) afforded to me through that mentorship that I ended up attending graduate school to earn my Ph.D. in clinical psychology. The rest is history.
Emily Polachek - 2007 Graduate
Appellate Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, Environment & Natural Resources Division
Graduation Year: 2007
After Creighton: JD from William Mitchell College of Law in 2010
How Psych department helped: My career is the product of several mentoring relationships that began with the professors in the CU Psychology Department. They pushed me to become a better writer, to thoroughly research unanswered questions, and to see both the theoretical and practical applications of the principles we studied. Psychology touches on many aspects of our lives---even as an environmental attorney, I have addressed topics I first studied as a psychology student at Creighton (i.e., diminished capacity and expert witness credibility).
Gerard Forbes - 2009 Graduate
Delivery Engineer at Dynamo, LLC– It is worth noting that because we are a company of 8, job titles don’t mean a whole lot. Each member of the team has a variety of things they work on outside of their core job duties. To me, that is one of the best things about working at a start-up.
I am also an Adjunct Professor at the UNO College of Business.
After Creighton, I obtained a training and development certification from UNO in 2011 and completed my MBA at UNO in 2015.
Why I would 100% get a psych degree from Creighton again: Weird thing about most jobs – you have to interact with people. The organizational behavior/leadership space is built upon psychology concepts and research. In my current role at an IT consulting and recruiting firm we have to understand candidates priorities and career goals, hiring managers priorities and goals, and the organizations culture and objectives. My psychology degree prepared me to take a scientific approach to understanding how people and groups behave and (probably more importantly) taught me how to effectively research and explore topics with which I am less familiar. Organization behavior is built on psychology research. Really, this is hard question to answer – I feel like I use the knowledge gained obtaining my undergraduate degree every day.
I’m not sure I love my answer for the last (and most important) part. We deal directly with people on both sides of our business, so having a better understanding of human behavior is constantly valuable. Plus, I am helping to define our culture and build out our training program so I use cognitive, social, learning, social, personality psych concepts regularly. I wouldn’t say I use the concepts at an incredible depth, the breadth of knowledge is constantly useful.
Laura Novotny - 2015 Graduate
Academic Advisor I, Colleges of Letters, Arts and Sciences (Undecided and General
Studies students) – University of Arizona
B.A. in Psychology, Minor in Communication Studies, and Business Certificate - Creighton University, May 2015
M.A. in College Student Personnel – Bowling Green State University
The Creighton Psychology department prepared me for both my professional life as well as my continued educational experiences. In terms of my education, the psychology major prepared me to understand the research process, comprehend research articles at the graduate level, and critically evaluate the data, thoughts, and opinions of various topics discussed during my program. This was extremely beneficial as higher education focuses on theories—such as those found in student development theory and career theory—that help to understand the role of higher education on students’ lives. I absolutely had an advantage over other cohort members without this background. And, thanks to the emphasis on statistics and research, I was able to test out of two required courses based on my knowledge of those area. Not only did it save me money, but it allowed me to pursue other involvements during my two years in the program.
In terms of my professional life, having a background of understanding people has been immensely beneficial. One of the most crucial psychology fields for my career has been Industrial and Organizational psychology. Understanding how both team and individuals function in a work setting has truly helped working with the both students I supervise and career peers. While developing curriculum for courses I teach, I am able to design lessons that students not only allow them to gain the necessary knowledge, but enjoy the process of learning - this is due to both having a knowledge of different types of people and their learning styles, as well as being exposed to different types of active learning in the classroom from the amazing psychology faculty (with a special shoutout to Dr. Huss and his extremely engaging teaching style). When advising students, I can think of two areas in which I draw from psychology. First, studying people and the effect of their environment helped me to develop empathy and an understanding that people have truly unique lives. Though I may not share the same struggles these students face, I am able to understand their perspective and adapt my advising style to their needs. Lastly, studying psychology taught me that a key to being successful in educational pursuits is to study what you love. As a biology major during my first year at Creighton, waking up and attending courses was a struggle. Though I’d always loved learning, I simply could not bring myself to care about what I was studying. When I switched in to psychology, my love for education was reignited and I looked forward to the time spent both inside and outside the classroom.
Overall, my Creighton Psychology degree laid a foundation for my education and my career. I feel confident that I would not have been as successful in my master’s program if not for the rigorous and thoughtful requirements of the major. I have no doubt this will continue as I develop in my field and pursue my Ph.D…when the time comes!