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Lydia Roberts: From Health Care PR to a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. with the help of SPS

Before joining the Psychology Certificate program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, Lydia Roberts (’20SPS), was using her bachelor’s in communications from University of Pennsylvania in a health care public relations job. While doing that work, she realized she would rather be working directly with patients than writing about people who were. In order to do that, she needed to go to graduate school for psychology and she began her search for a postbaccalaureate program that would help her do that.

Enter SPS’ Psychology Certificate.

What drew you to attend Columbia and why did the Psychology Certificate appeal to you? 

I wanted to take courses that would provide a foundation in an area different than I studied in college, and Columbia provided an opportunity to do that. Columbia also provides numerous research opportunities through volunteering at faculty labs, which is valuable experience to get prior to applying to graduate school. I was not sure what graduate program I wanted to pursue when I applied to the postbac program, but I thought by taking courses and meeting people in the psychology field, I could figure out my next move.

What was your experience at Columbia like? 

The caliber of the courses I took was excellent. I learned a great deal in a short period of time, and I was able to figure out a more specific path that I wanted to follow, that being clinical psychology. The students in my courses had diverse backgrounds and showed me that many fields and experiences lead people to psychology. It was wonderful to know that we all had a common goal - graduate studies in psych and helping patients through research or clinical work.

What was your favorite course? 

The Barnard Clinical Field Practicum and Abnormal Behavior.

How did this coursework help you in your academic/professional goals? 

Through the clinical field practicum, I gained clinical experience, which is hard to come by without a graduate degree. I also had a chance to learn about the other students' clinical experiences, which helped me to narrow down what I wanted to do next. 

In Abnormal Behavior, we learned about the symptoms and treatment of many psychological disorders. Beyond that, our professor encouraged us to think about the experience of living with each of these disorders, which helped the class gain a deeper understanding as well as empathy, which I will utilize often in my future clinical work.

What are you up to now? 

I am starting the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program at Hofstra University. I will be part of the Anxiety and Depression clinic, where I will begin seeing patients at a training clinic in the spring semester. I sought out a program with a dual focus on research and clinical work, and Hofstra felt like a great fit.

What advice would you give to future students in the program? 

Get to know your professors! Speaking to them about their experiences will help you determine your path forward and what graduate programs best fit your interests and professional goals. 

Learn more about the Psychology Certificate here.