Exploring the human psyche as a path to help others

Six seniors will study the science of human behavior and mental health in college.


Claire Moore '22

Six seniors will gain insight into the field of psychology during their college careers.

Six Sacred Heart Greenwich students intend to pursue degrees in psychology at their respective colleges.  Seniors Sydney Duncan, Jacey Heffernan, Lauren Mirando, Emily Newton, Emma Kate Smith, and Dominique Prato will explore the science of human behavior and mental health next fall.  Their reasons for choosing this field are varied, but their goals to work with those who need help are comparable.

The study of psychology involves social, cognitive, abnormal, personality, and developmental sectors, according to usnews.com.  There is a diverse array of psychological studies, such as learning and behavior, social work, drugs and behavior, neuroscience, and child psychology.  Students can apply this degree to various fields, including education, law, medicine, and business.  Professional therapy and psychiatry require graduate school and licensing. 

Lauren chose to major in psychology primarily because the field allows her to help others.  In alignment with her desire to embark on a fulfilling career path, she plans to obtain a doctorate in the subject and become a clinical psychologist.  Lauren will attend Bucknell University next year to further her knowledge in psychology, before pursuing these professional endeavors.  She shared how Mrs. Jillian Bozzi, Upper School History Teacher, cemented her interest in the subject during the Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology course.  Her teaching gave Lauren the confidence and ability to be successful in collegiate academics and beyond.

“Sacred Heart has prepared me for my academics in college through the rigorous courses and workload as both have taught me the importance of time management and hard work,” Lauren said.  “My work in the AP Psychology class with Mrs. Bozzi prompted my passion for the field and has also allowed me to feel confident in my knowledge when beginning college courses.”

Depending on their degree level, individuals who study psychology can apply their degree to various professions in the psychological field.  Courtesy of apa.org

The insight psychology offers into how people feel, behave, and process information initially attracted Emily to the field.  She also believes psychology is a highly useful tool for both exploring a variety of potential career paths and navigating personal, professional, and familial relationships.  Emily is looking forward to learning about different areas of the subject at Middlebury College as an integral part of its liberal arts curriculum, while also participating in research initiatives.

“Middlebury has always been my dream school for many reasons and the school’s emphasis on undergraduate student research as a part of its psychology curriculum is a key factor for me,” Emily said.  “I even wrote in my freshman year letter to my future self that my dream was to major in psychology there.  I’m so excited to study psychology at a school with all the research opportunities and resources that Middlebury offers.”

Emma Kate, who will attend Saint Joseph’s University, wants to study psychology because its broadness will allow her to explore many different career paths.  The rigorous courses she completed in high school have served as preparation for college classes and assignments.  Additionally, the close student-teacher relationships at Sacred Heart have taught Emma Kate to be an active participant in class and seek extra help when needed, two skills that she will carry with her to college.  She chose to expand her psychological knowledge at Saint Joseph’s because of its strong programs, city campus, and welcoming community.  Emma Kate is also minoring in Animal Studies as she hopes to apply her degree to the zoology field in the future.

“I want to truly be able to understand the way humans and animals think and the similarities among them,” Emma Kate said.  “After college, I plan on using this degree in relation to animals and hopefully becoming a zookeeper for a major zoo in the United States.  Having a degree in psychology would help me to better understand animals and the way they act, and most importantly, the meaning behind each of their actions.  I believe that I will be a better zookeeper by having a degree in psychology as I would be able to analyze the animals that I work with rather than being confused by their actions.”

Due to her fascination with how the human psyche works, Sydney chose to major in psychology.  After college, she plans to use the scientific aspects of psychology in a graduate nursing program.  Sacred Heart’s course load has instilled the value of hard work in Sydney, a quality that will be essential for her future undertakings.  She decided to attend Bucknell University because of its lively atmosphere and strong psychology courses that will set her up to achieve her goals.

“I plan to use my psychology degree as a science to help me get into nursing school,” Sydney said.  “Ever since I became a certified Emergency Medicine Technician (EMT), I have been very interested in going into medical school and I plan to go on to graduate school for nursing and possibly become a nurse practitioner.  I think majoring in psychology will be great because I can learn even more about the human mind which relates to nursing in many ways.”

Emily visits the Middlebury campus in Middlebury, Vermont with her parents.  Courtesy of Emily Newton ’21

A degree in psychology offers its recipients numerous benefits such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and research skills, according to psychologytoday.com.  It allows students to manage difficult and high-stress environments more effectively along with providing insight into how memory and learning function.  Psychology also promotes growth in the ability to interpret and understand data.

Dr. Melissa Otero, School Psychologist and Lead Wellness Strand of the Department of Student Support Services, discussed her own career as a clinical therapist and how it has broadened her perspective.   

“I have met so many people over the years from all walks of life and I have always felt that the children and families I have worked with are my biggest teachers,” Dr. Otero said.  “I will forever be learning.  One of the big lessons I’ve taken away is that we really are so much more alike than we are different.  No matter someone’s background, beliefs, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, the thing that binds us is that we all experience the full range of human emotion.  We all know what it feels like to experience joy and deep sadness, anger, fear, excitement.  Our life experiences may vary, but we are all humans seeking to live a life where we feel fulfilled and at peace at the end of the day.  I think when we are able to see and treat others as humans, so much good can be accomplished.”

Featured Image by Claire Moore ’22