Point Park's Psychology Program Prepares Alumna for Graduate School Monday, June 6, 2011
Point Park psychology alumna Veronika Panagiotou poses in the lobby of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Veronika Panagiotou, M.S., is a doctoral student in the Ph.D. in community engagement program at Point Park University. She teaches the City-University Life 101 course at Point Park and is a part of the visitor services department at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. Veronika's research interest is service-learning in higher education. She is currently working with University administration to launch a food pantry dedicated to supporting food insecure college students.
Veronika Panagiotou credits the psychology program at Point Park - and the qualitative research methods she learned - for giving her an edge into graduate school. This fall she will attend the University of Pittsburgh to pursue a Master of Science degree in applied developmental psychology with a concentration in child-life.
"My graduate advisor at Pitt was really impressed with my academic background and the practical experiences I gained at Point Park," said Panagiotou. "Like Point Park, Pitt's psychology program also teaches qualitative research methods. Not many college programs teach this more humanistic style of research."
According to Point Park Assistant Professor of Psychology Robert McInerney, Ph.D, the psychology program at Point Park is based in humanistic principles such as freedom, dignity, liberation and hope.
"Our program embraces interdisciplinary exchanges with literature and the arts, creative writing, historical shifts and political, global and cultural issues," he said. "Students have the opportunity to engage in ethical research and clinical work that has practical applications for individual therapy as well as therapy for the community."
During her college years at Point Park, Panagiotou had vital roles in the community both on and off campus. On campus she served as senior class representative, held a work-study job in the Department of Humanities and Human Sciences and assisted with the University's annual Humanities Symposium, an undergraduate research conference designed to showcase student work.
Off campus she attended Point Park's "alternative spring break," traveling to Miami to help build houses with Habitat for Humanity. She also facilitated blanket drives for the homeless in Pittsburgh as chair of Point Park's Confluence Psychology Alliance, a student organization that creates, organizes and sponsors academic lectures and film series, community outreach projects and conferences.
"Veronika was a conscientious, engaged and inquisitive student and is a sincere, ethical and kind person," remarked McInerney.
Panagiotou graduated cum laude from Point Park and was recipient of the University's 2011 Alumni Association President's Award. After earning her master's degree, Panagiotou would like to become a child-life specialist for a children's hospital. She also plans to earn a doctorate degree in child psychology and become a college professor.
As a step toward her goal of becoming a child-life specialist, Panagiotou currently volunteers in the Child Life Department at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
"We teach the kids about their upcoming procedures to reduce their fears and then try to create the best environment for healing through play activities," said Panagiotou. "I love being at Children's and will continue to volunteer there for as long as I can."
Panagiotou's advice to current and future psychology students is to keep an open mind and explore the various areas in the field. "Psychology has so many different niches. When you find the niche that is right for you, you'll know it because it will no longer seem like work," she said.