MEET @UOFSHEALTHPSYCH: Natalia Juscinska

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Natalia Juscinska is a senior Psychology major who recently completed an Honors thesis with Dr. Arigo. She was interviewed by junior Psychology major Kristen Pasko.

Natalia

UofSHealthPsych: Tell us about your specific interests in the field of psychology.

NJ: Clinical psychology and health psychology. I’m mostly interested in research so I think I want to do that in the future. Most of my research is on stress and anxiety, how stress relates to physical illness, and what you can do to manage stress. I’m also interested in chronic illness and things you can do to help people manage it, like improving adherence. So, it’s a lot of things we’ve talked about in health psychology. I really like trauma and PTSD as well, so, we’ll see where graduate school takes me.

UofSHealthPsych: Wow, that explains why the Clinical Health Psychology Team is such a good fit for you! What originally made you join the team – how did you find out about it?

NJ: I took research methods my sophomore year, and I knew that I really wanted to get involved in research, but at the time I was more interested in the clinical side of things and no one had a “lab” for a that. Dr. Arigo posted a flyer at the end of that year, recruiting research assistants. I looked up some of her published works and I found them really interesting. I thought that her team would be a good fit for me, because I’m really interested in the overlap between mental and physical illness.

UofSHealthPsych: What are your specific responsibilities in the lab that you have taken on, and could you tell us about your own project?

NJ: The most recent work I’ve done is on my thesis. It’s on perceived stress and social comparison in type 2 diabetes. I’m looking at whether engaging in social comparison has an influence on how stressed patients say they are, before and after comparison.

My first measure is asking them about how much overall stress they felt in the last month. Then, I give them a prompt to read of either upward or downward comparison and then ask them how stressed they feel in the moment. My hypotheses weren’t supported, unfortunately. It was a secondary analysis of Dr. Arigo’s work, so I have to make some adjustments.

Separate from my thesis, I’ve also helped out a lot with the expressive writing coding that we’ve been doing for Sara Chapin’s project. I’ve drafted some IRBs for smaller projects in the past, and I helped out with Project Connect last year. That was one of the first times I got to interact with participants.

UofSHealthPsych: That is all so exciting, especially from being a part of our first Fitbit study at the U, to now recently finishing your thesis! So, now that senior year is coming to an end, what are your plans for further schooling and your career?

NJ: I’m taking a year off to do Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) this year, and then I hope to get my Ph.D after that. So I will definitely be applying to grad school; either clinical or health psychology, and doing more research.

UofSHealthPsych: Could you tell me more about JVC?

NJ: I’ll be doing case management full time in Connecticut for a year as a part of JVC. I’m looking forward to getting clinical exposure in that role.

UofSHealthPscyh: That is wonderful. Congratulations! I have one last question. How has working with the Clinical Health Research Team prepared you for life after Scranton?

NJ: When I was looking for research there was nothing that combined the physical and mental health aspects of psychology that I was interested in. I did not even know that health psychology was a field before Dr. Arigo came to the U. So, I think this really opened up my eyes to what I’m interested in, how to synthesize it, and a field that I really want to pursue in the future.

 

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Meet @UofSHealthPsych: Jess Baschoff

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Jessica Baschoff is a senior Psychology major and co-president of APSSC, the research-focused psychology group on campus. She’s been involved with several projects related to promoting physical activity and weight loss among women. She was interviewed by junior Marissa DeStefano, who also majors in Psychology.

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UofSHealthPsych: Where are you from?

JB: I grew up right outside Philly, and lived in a town called Prospect Park.

UofSHealthPsych: Why did you choose Scranton?

JB: When I was looking to transfer I wanted to go to a school that challenged me academically and had opportunities for students in every aspect of college, had strong sense of community, had a beautiful campus, good food, etc. I was originally looking at Catholic schools, and when I visited here as a senior in high school, I fell in love with it. I knew that I belonged here. I was accepted here during my senior year of high school but decided to go to community college in Philly and then transferred into Scranton. I always knew in the back of my mind I was going to end up here.

UofSHealthPsych: What made you choose Psychology as a major?

JB: I knew going into college that I wanted to have a career where I was helping people. I wanted to do something with a capital S but I wasn’t sure exactly what way I would do it. During my first year at community college I took abnormal psychology and absolutely fell in love with psychological disorders and diagnosing people. I found it fascinating and took more psychology courses and then realized that a major in psychology would provide more than enough opportunities to help people. I started out as an education major and ended up declaring psychology because I knew I would find a way that I wanted to help people through psychology.

UofSHealthPsych: What inspired you to join the Clinical Health Lab?

JB: I was a member of APSSC last year. Iwas talked into attending research day (where students present their work in research labs) by the current presidents at the time, and I was absolutely fascinated by the research that our the lab did. I contacted Dr. Arigo about the lab afterward and she decided to give me a shot. I have been a member ever since. I had no idea about the research opportunities in the psychology department until I joined that club.

UofSHealthPsych: What advice do you have for students who might be interested in research?

JB: Talk to faculty members and find out what research they’re doing and what they’re planning on doing in the future. Even if you are not attached to any of their research projects you can come up with your own study and try to find mentors who will help guide your research. Just make sure you visit their websites before you approach them – some of them have specific procedures or applications for getting involved.

UofSHealthPsych: What do you plan to do after you graduate?

JB: I plan to be a research assistant in the Philadelphia area after graduating. Hopefully I will be staying within clinical and health psychology, but I am still open to a variety of options. I see myself going to graduate school at some point but am still in the works of figuring out what career I want to pursue and what degree I want to obtain to do so.

UofSHealthPsych: What will you miss most about Scranton?

JB: I’m definitely going to miss the community here the most. Between the fantastic maintenance people in Pilarz, Lou from the first floor DeNaples food court, all the friends I’ve made in classes, the faculty members, and everyone else I’ve met in my short time here have made this school feel like heaven on Earth. Even in the Orientation Team that I was on this summer, I found my second family and it gave me some of the greatest friends I have here at Scranton.