Joseph Whitehouse '12 of Schenectady, N.Y., soon will embark on an experience that will have him well on his way to achieving his goal of becoming a clinical psychologist. This fall, he will serve an internship at the New England Center for Children. The Southborough, Mass., school for children specializes in autism treatment and education.
"This opportunity will enhance not only my education but bring me closer to my career goals because of the experience in a clinical setting," Whitehouse said. "As most people know, education is great, but hands-on experience is where most learning takes place. I believe this opportunity that MCLA has provided to students ... is vital to pushing them forward and to pass their limits and bounds. It gives them an experience that most colleges cannot offer."
This will be Whitehouse's first experience with autistic children in an educational setting. He will work one-on-one with them as he helps them with tasks and to develop new skills.
A student of Dr. Thomas Byrne's, Whitehouse said the behavior analysis classes he took with the psychology professor has prepared him for the experience by giving him the knowledge and theories he will need to implement. The entire MCLA faculty, he said, has been "excellent" as they have helped all of the College's psychology majors not only to excel as individuals. But to make their educational time at MCLA special.
Whitehouse knew that MCLA was the right place for him when he came to campus for a tour and met Byrne. "It was a warm environment," he said. "I knew the psychology faculty had a desire to not just teach their students, but develop a bond, uplifting them to new levels through encouragement."
Although he entered MCLA as a shy freshman, "Now, all the professors and students cannot get me to shut up," Whitehouse said.
In addition to working with Byrne, psychology professor Dr. Peggy Brooks took Whitehouse under her wing and asked him to be a teacher's assistant for her abnormal psychology class. He went on to serve as a lab technician for Brooks.
"It is very easy to get involved, but you also have to be willing to make the effort," Whitehouse said. "The professors have a great relationship with each other and are very personable with the students. This makes approaching them very easy, whether it's about grades, research or non-academic talk."
Whitehouse encourages other students who major in psychology to get to know their teachers, especially as the number of students studying in the field grows at MCLA.
What's the best thing about his MCLA experience, so far? Whitehouse says it's the psychology faculty.
"They really care about the success of their students and are always trying to put them first and encourage them to higher standards. This allows you to connect with the teachers as well as other students, making class fun and yet educational," he said.
After he finishes his bachelor's degree next spring, Whitehouse plans to go on to graduate school for clinical psychology. "After I obtain my master's or Ph.D I would like to apply at a hospital or an established counseling center to get my feet wet in the work force. Maybe one day I will have my own practice."