Just Problem Solving: Video Transcript

Alexandria (Alex) Intorcio (BA Psychology, Miami, 2010) [Research and Evaluation Assistant in Miami's Center for School-based Mental Health Programs]: I became interested in psychology, probably, in high school. I took a high school psych class, and our teacher was great and really enthusiastic, but we watched a lot of movies. But the take-home message was everybody should take one psychology class in college, because it'll be a cool experience. And I said, "Okay, I can do that. It fits into my Miami Plan." And I had Dr. Pete Wessels, and I sat down on the first day thinking this was going to be about Freud and all of these things that psychology is so stereotypically known for. And he opened my eyes to the fact that there're people who think about thinking, and that just blew my mind. I think about thinking all the time! Why do I think about thinking? So this whole metacognitive idea, and the fact that memory is malleable, and if you ask somebody a story one day, they may concretely swear that they have that answer, and then two weeks later, completely different stories. There are all these super cool things that I didn't even think people thought about, let alone studied. And, at that point, I was hooked.

My degree in psychology from Miami University is integral to what I do now. Even though I didn't take many of the classes in our psych major that require personality and abnormal and clinical psych, my training as a psychologist led me to be able to form decisions and use the scientific process, and be aware of more things. And that's, I think, one of my favorite parts of the job that I have now with the Center [for School-based Mental Health Programs], is that I bring a unique perspective to the programs that we evaluate and the work that we do. I think I come to it with a different voice and different ideas of how our research should be done based on my background. And I owe that to the Psychology Department at Miami.

Through our work with non-profits, I've seen a broad variety of projects implemented. So, last year, I worked with the YWCA in Hamilton about their Teen Pregnancy Prevention Needs Assessment, so we came up with this whole big survey to be distributed to several key stakeholder groups including teachers, medical professionals, youth service providers, teens, and their parents to get a very broad, holistic idea of what the attitudes in the community are towards being pregnant as a teen, what do they think the outcomes are going to be, what the impact is, things like that. So we basically gave them all the tools they need to move forward and create a social media-based prevention program. This year we're working with Green County, which is near Dayton, on their federal grant called "Safe Schools, Healthy Students." It's five elements, a huge grant, but essentially, the same idea, to make sure that children in the state of Ohio grades K-12, are being provided the best mental health services possible, making sure that their parents are engaged in the process, the community's engaged in the process. And those are just some of the projects that I do.

I find that Miami's focus on liberal arts education has really helped me in moving forward in my career. So, when I graduated here with a B.A. in psychology, I would not have thought that I would end up with master's in anything political science. I didn't take…Minus my one class that I took in Luxembourg about political theory over the summer, I hadn't taken a single political science class, but I still felt prepared on my first day of my master's program in political psychology because I had earned a very solid liberal arts background. I was going to be able to reason through and learn whatever they threw at me with this master's program, even though it wasn't a hundred percent in my field. I also think that even though math is not my thing, I am not afraid to think through things in a logical or statistical way, because Miami does require some amount of math, which I think at the time I was not thrilled about, but now that I'm older, and I'm presented with charts and data and raw data that you have to then go in and make something, that your client is asking you for. It's hugely helpful, just problem-solving as a whole, and feeling prepared and well-rounded as a professional has been great.

[September 2015]