Tanelle Ciempa ’16 (second from right) and a few classmates at graduation, with psychology professors Dr. Maria Bartini (far left) and Dr. Deborah Foss (far right).

Psychology Grad Heads to Ireland for Master’s


Now working on her master’s degree in psychology at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Tanelle Ciempa ’16 of Adams, Mass., aims for a career as a researcher of behavior and crime patterns for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“My freshmen year I would have never imagined that I would be accepted into a top graduate school, and that I would travel halfway across the world to attend it,” Ciempa said. “If I’d gone to another undergraduate school, I don’t think I would have been given the countless opportunities that MCLA has provided me with.”

An internship for the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District during her senior year at MCLA helped to prepare Ciempa for her future career in psychology. Her work with the district’s autism and behavior specialist benefitted her in a myriad of ways, as she gained valuable experience in an applied setting.

“I discovered that I enjoyed working with special needs children,” she said. “I saw first-hand how Individualized Education Program meetings are handled, what classroom observation looks like, and I made behavior intervention suggestions.”

A student-athlete at MCLA, Ciempa was on the women’s softball team and part of the campus’s lacrosse team for the new sport’s first two seasons.

“The most important quality I gained from being a student-athlete was confidence. It is ingrained into an athlete to be competitive; we want to be the best we can be. So when you are a student-athlete you not only want to be the best on the field, but also in the classroom,” she explained.

That drive pushed her to spend extra time revising research papers, making flashcards to help her study, and to read through every chapter assigned to her as homework. It’s also what led her to apply to graduate school, Ciempa explained.

She ended up selecting Trinity College after noticing a poster for the school on a psychology department bulletin board, which advertised multiple graduate schools.

“In the bottom corner I saw the poster for Trinity College, Dublin,” she said. “Right there, I decided if I was going to continue with my education I was going to do it somewhere exciting. I had lived in Adams for 22 years and I figured it was the perfect time to take this opportunity.”

According to Ciempa, MCLA’s psychology program provides an excellent opportunity to diversify one’s knowledge of the field.

“As a freshman, you take the introductory course and then there are many ways to branch out,” she said. “Students are required to learn about many aspects of psychology.”

MCLA best prepared Ciempa for success, she said, by making her into a well-rounded student.

“I am thankful I had the opportunity to take all of my psychology courses, as well as math, science, and a couple art classes. The background of multiple disciplines from MCLA has widened my range of knowledge and in turn created more opportunities for me in the future.”