Interview with Stacey Jaffe '03: "Where Are They Now?"

Earlier this year, CAS communications intern Evie Doster, a creative writing major and film studies co-major, interviewed Stacey Jaffe '03, who majored in psychology. Stacey is currently the Vice President of Digital Services at Scholastic Inc. and is a member of the Department of Psychology’s Alumni Advisory Board.

Stacey Jaffe

Can you tell me about what you do at Scholastic?

My role is to improve the digital customer experience at Scholastic, making sure we are meeting the present day needs of our customers. My role encompasses digital marketing, eCommerce, product, and design experience.

Considering all that work, what does your average day look like?

I start by looking at our digital performance dashboards (which show our data and statistics) and thinking about, "Are my current results aligned to my expected results? Are my strategies delivering, and if they are delivering, what can I do to enhance them? If they're not delivering, how do we need to alter them?" The data dictates how the rest of the day unfolds.

How does your degree in psychology apply to what you're doing in your work?

On a daily basis, I use my knowledge of research methodology and statistics.

What was the most beneficial thing you did as a student to prepare you for your career?

I did my senior honors research under [emeritus professor] Dr. Cecilia Shore, where she mentored me on  conceptualizing a research project that studied how preschoolers learn how to think about the world around them and focused on whether or not they applied moral judgments to people involved in behaviors they witnessed. For instance, if a child gets hit with a ball on the playground, what does the preschooler think of the person who threw the ball?

In particular, I was curious if preschoolers would assign the category of "nice" or "mean" to an action they were watching. We also looked at whether or not a preschooler would make a different moral judgment  if they were told ahead of time that somebody was "nice" or "mean." We did a little research study with three to 5-year-olds in a local preschool, analyzed all the data, prepared the insights, and captured my findings in a report.

That research study turned out to be a good parallel to what I do today: my team conceives of an idea, executes said idea, measures the results, and presents our findings to our stakeholders within the company to make decisions about our future customer experience.

How do you feel about your transition to a career from Miami? Were you prepared?

One of my colleagues recently shared that when they're hiring people directly from their undergraduate careers, they look for individuals who had a lot of leadership experience on campus.  In the interview, they will inquire as to whether or not their leadership experience was in name only or if they truly ran the program.

When I look at my experience as a whole at Miami, I got an immense amount of leadership experience where I was truly leading the program. That experience helps with my career to this day.

What course in psychology do you think you enjoyed the most?

As to what I enjoyed the most, if memory serves correctly, we got course credit for participating in research labs  and that would unequivocally take the top spot.

Research methodology and statistics have been the most useful throughout every iteration of my career.

What advice do you have for current psychology students?

Take research methodology and statistics — they're the backbone of so many skills and careers and allow for you to be flexible and nimble on the job market.

Even if for some reason you don't end up in a career in psychology, you could argue about why those two courses are applicable to many fields of study like business, data analytics, technology, digital marketing, and on and on.

What is your favorite memory in psychology, if you have one?

The Psychology Department used to be in Benton Hall. Dr. Timothy Dowd (of blessed memory) started his Psychology 111 class one day by putting a dense sheet of notes on the overhead projector and told us all to "make sure you capture all these notes for the upcoming test." Out of nowhere, someone in the back of the room started shouting that "This is too many notes! I'm too stressed! The test is unfair!" That person ran to the front of the room, grabbed the piece of paper from the overhead projector, and ran out of Benton Hall! Dr. Dowd then invited a sketch artist from the police department to come draw this person and we spent the rest of the class creating this drawing before the actor returned to stand next to the drawing.

It was one of the most effective lessons on bias I've ever witnessed.

That's so wild! Were you floored?

Everybody was floored! We thought this was a student having a moment of stress and panic only to later discover the entire thing had been staged and the "student" was an actor.

What was your favorite Oxford food?

It's a tie. There's no Jimmy John's in New York City, and at any moment I would love to have one of their sandwiches. But I think the number one answer is Mac and Joe's cheese fries.

How long have you lived in New York?

I've been here since I graduated in 2003.

What do you miss most about the Miami experience?

Living with all my friends. It's the last time in life that you're going to live with everyone.

[March 2020]

Want to be featured in a future newsletter? Let us know! Send an email to