1. When did you graduate? I graduated in December of 2010 with a double major in Psychology and Human Development.
2. What do you do now? I recently returned from a master’s program in Ireland and volunteering at a rural refugee camp in Greece. My MA is in Gender, Globalisation and Human Rights, so I would consider myself to be a human rights advocate at the moment.
3. Why did you major in psychology? I love people, isn’t that why we all study psychology? I was, and still am, fascinated by people, personalities and family systems. When I think back on the courses I got the most out of I would have to say theories of personality, clinical child psychology and gender across the lifespan. They were utterly fascinating.
4. What do you do for fun? I really enjoy travelling. After living abroad for the last year and a half, I have certainly caught the travel bug. I have a long list of destinations I can’t wait to visit.
5. What academic experience or accomplishment are you most proud of? I am most proud of the FLITE program I developed my senior year in college. The program helped many high school students access higher education and I am still in touch with it’s graduates today. It holds a special place in my heart and I feel blessed that I received such incredible support for this project from the professors in the psych department and Phuture Phoenix. Many of the psych professors volunteered their time to speak to the group. For those that don’t know, FLITE was a college-bound program started in 2010 at Preble High School. You can learn more about it here: http://goo.gl/oXJqCz. On a side note, I am also super proud of my recent research dissertation for my master’s degree program. I researched and wrote on the unique paradox facing undocumented students and education rights in the US from a political and human rights critique. My research concluded that citizenship is a process engendered by politics and current policies regarding undocumented youth have created a substantive citizenship status that elevates the population into a position of having the “right to have rights” and, therefore, a right to education. Talk about a mouth full.
6. What’s your favorite movie, book, and TV show, related to psychology? Hmm.. This is a great question. I had to really think about it. I feel like everything relates to psychology, or maybe it’s just that I am always applying what I learned to the things I read, watch and absorb. However, a great book I would suggest to everyone is called War: What if it were here? by Janne Teller. It discusses a fictional war situation from the perspective of a young British boy forced to flee to an Arab country to seek refugee. It is written like a diary and you are able to feel his pain and witness the decline of his mental health and his families under the strains of living with so little in an environment that is entirely foreign to him. It is a worthy read for anyone trying to better understand the psychological impacts of war.
7. What an important goal or accomplishment you are currently working on? Presently, I have been working on fundraising for refugee youth education projects in Greece. I am heading back to the refugee camp I worked at over winter to continue volunteering. I recently held a community event at the ART Garage and we raised over $2,600 dollars that will return with me to be used directly on-the-ground for educational activities with refugee children and youth. Anyone interested in learning more or donating to the cause can visit www.gofundme.com/from-ritsona-with-love-fundraiser. I have also been giving presentations around the Green Bay community regarding the rights of refugees, the asylum process, conditions in the camps and sharing real stories that bring a human face to the crisis.