Worcester, Mass., which was used to
update laboratory space and purchase
new equipment. The newly renovated
biopsychology laboratory gives students
the ability to conduct behavioral
neuroscience research, an opportunity not
typically offered at most small, private
liberal arts colleges.
The biopsychology laboratory suite
is comprised of the rodent vivarium,
animal behavioral testing laboratory
and biopsychology teaching lab with
recently purchased equipment including
a centrifuge. The lab is the most
recent addition to the department’s
facilities, which also include the
capability for psychophysiology and
electroencephalography (EEG) testing for
human participants.
By far, the most hailed facet of the
College’s psychology program from
faculty, alumni and students alike is
practicum experience. Sarah (Kiely)
Balduino ’05 directly attributes her career
path to her practicum experience.
“During my senior year,” she says,
“the practicum allowed me to intern
with a school psychologist, which was
highly influential in my career choice.”
Balduino went on to earn a master’s from
Bucknell University and is now school
psychologist for a nearby school district.
“It’s amazing to have this experience
first-hand and so early in my career,”
says Allison Hurley ’13. “I’m currently
working with neuropsychological testing,
but I’m also able to sit in on initial and
feedback sessions with clients.”
The two-semester long practicum
program allows students to engage in the
community while still meeting weekly
as a class. This allows them to work out
real-world issues in the field.
“A student who’s working in the
nursing home saw her first elderly patient
on Tuesday and when she went back on
Thursday, he had passed away,” Dr. Kurt
Olsen, assistant professor, provides as
an example. “She was very emotional
about how the staff there seemed to
be invulnerable to this... And then our
classroom becomes a place where the
other students’ eyes get big and they
think ‘I don’t know what I would have
done in that circumstance.’ But the reality
of managing the social services of a
nursing home is of course that some of
your patients die. And so she airs that out
in a safe, wonderful context with other
students who are talking about similar
issues in their practicums.”
A committed faculty
Olsen asserts that his colleagues are
“really good teachers,” an observation
supported by high evaluations from
students in all the department’s classes.
Students appreciate the access and
attention they have from their faculty.
Brian Schurr ’05, who earned a
master’s and Psy.D. from Marywood
University and works as a clinical
program manager and outpatient
therapist, wholeheartedly concurs.
“The faculty is what makes
Lycoming’s psychology program stand
out,” Schurr said. “In addition to being
knowledgeable, the faculty was always
available and incredibly supportive of
students. In fact, one of my professors
from Lycoming served on the committee
for my master’s thesis.”   
Close relationships allow professors
to connect students’ interests with their
in- and out-of-classroom experiences.
“Lycoming really caters to this,” says
Gilbertson. “A student gets really excited,
really interested, probably through
something they heard in class, and they
know what to do with that. I get a lot
of students who come through my door
and say, ‘I heard this great thing about
the brain in class and I really want to
follow this up.’ Then we’ll talk about an
experience they can do with it, such as
independent study or an honors project.”
Professors find these relationships
rewarding as well.
One of the things Olsen enjoys most
about teaching at Lycoming is the first-
generation students and students from
central Pennsylvania.
“Many don’t know that they’ve
got the potential that we see in them.
[Lycoming] really does open up their
eyes,” Olsen said. “We have kids who are
working a part-time job and their parents
are scratching up the money to allow
them to come here. And then, after three
semesters of various psychology classes
they connect with a professor and start to
work on their lab. Then you put them in
the car and take them to Boston or New
York City and for a lot of students, it’s
not only the first psychology conference
they’ve ever been to, it’s the first time
they’ve been there. And then they start
thinking about graduate school and …
you really, really change the lives of
the people by interacting with them like
this.”
The diversity of the training of the
faculty – rare at many other institutions
– is another hallmark of Lycoming’s
program. Despite the breadth of the
discipline, the department has professors
trained in key areas of psychology.
“We’ve done a really good job keeping
up with the changes in the field,” says
Dr. Kathy Ryan, department chair and
professor. “We have applied psychologists,
like a health psychologist. We have
someone who teaches school psychology.
We have a clinical psychologist. And,
we cover the basics such as neural
psychology, personality theory and social
psychology.”
Post-graduate success
Lycoming psychology majors are well-
suited to enter a wide variety of fields,
though particularly in counseling, teaching
and research, especially when the strengths
of the department are coupled with
Lycoming’s liberal arts curriculum.
“Coming from a small college, I was
nervous about my chances of getting into
graduate school and doing well there,”
says Dr. Deanna Barthlow-Potkanowicz
’99, Licensed Clinical Psychologist
in a university counseling center.
“Doctoral programs in psychology are
highly competitive to gain entrance to.
I ended up receiving full-tuition and a
paid assistantship at Kent State due to
the resumé I had built at Lycoming. In
addition, because of the curriculum, I was
a better writer and further along in my
understanding of research methods than
some of my graduate-school classmates.”
The accolades from the department’s
alumni go on.
“At Lycoming, I was exposed to such
a variety of ways to think and apply
psychology,” says Lindsay Repko ’02,
psychotherapist in private practice and
therapist/care manager at Edgewood
Center for Children and Families in San
Francisco, Calif. “The faculty was
phenomenal. I was given various oppor-
tunities to expand my thinking through
classroom engagement, research and
independent study in relevant areas. I still
refer to those papers today that I wrote
some 10 years ago. Lycoming was my
introduction to the work and fostered the
development of a solid foundation for fu-
ture study. It was applicable, adaptable and
comprehensive. I felt prepared in graduate
school and developed the confidence to
put myself forward in writing, presentation
and practice. The psychology department
prepared me to really go in any direction
and for that, I’m grateful.”
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