Combined Degree Student Spotlight: Lisbeth Parra ’19

Lisbeth Parra ’19 accelerates her academics, and gets a head start as a psychology professional

How did you become interested in psychology and counseling, and what would you like to do upon graduation?

Psychology has tremendously intrigued me since high school, when I interned at an agency in Harlem which provided services for families of lower socioeconomic status who had children with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The connection I was able to build with the students, teachers, and psychologists was truly inspiring and encouraged me to continue to pursue my interest in this field. I am also very passionate about where I come from, so through the study of mental health counseling, I want to serve the needs of the Latin American population. A long-term goal is to provide resources for persons with developmental disabilities in Latin American countries.

What led you to apply for the BA in Applied Psychology and Human Relations and MS in Mental Health Counseling combined degree program?

As a combined degree student, I had the opportunity to begin my graduate classes during my fourth year as an undergraduate student. So, to me, one of the biggest advantages was going into my first full year as a graduate student with an entire semester under my belt. This has given me the opportunity to take less classes towards the end of the program and allowed me to dedicate more time to investing in experiences that will benefit my advancement in the mental health counseling profession.

What activities have you been involved in as a student?

I have been heavily involved in student life since I was an undergraduate and have a large interest in the overall development of students on college campuses. Currently, I am a graduate assistant in the Center for Student Development and Campus Activities, where my focus is on programming events campus-wide. I also oversee the First-Generation College Initiative, through which I work on different events and social media campaigns that raise awareness of how important it is to provide resources for students like me, and what our colleges can do to ensure these students have a “home away from home.” Further, I am a member of Psi Chi, the honor society for Psychology at Pace.

What have your experiences been like as a major in the Psychology Department in Pleasantville?

Dyson is a very large college at Pace, so it always amazes me how as students, many of us feel individually catered to and that our needs matter. The Psychology Department has been wonderful. My advisor as an undergraduate, Vanessa Ramkissoon, was someone I could go to if I encountered any problems or just wanted to talk. Also, one of the benefits of being part of a combined degree program is that you work with many of the same faculty on the undergraduate and graduate level, as I have with Professors Cadet, Juncaj, and Franco. This really helps when it comes to support or mentorship.

What internships have you had while at Pace?

My first internship was as an academic mentor at the Successful Learning Center, a community program for college-aged students with developmental disabilities who take classes at Pace. As a second year Mental Health Counseling student, I am currently interning at Montefiore Medical Center’s Supporting Healthy Relationships program as a relationship educator, providing psychoeducation for primarily Spanish-speaking couples with children. These experiences have been truly rewarding and taught me so much about myself and the populations I wish to work with.

What advice would you like to give to other students?

I cannot stress enough how important it is to build a relationship with your professors and advisors. They will be your biggest supporters, guiding lights, and advocates. Always do your research before you choose a program/concentration and do something that you are passionate about. I chose Mental Health Counseling because of the difference I can make in someone’s life.

To learn more about the combined BA in Applied Psychology and Human Relations/MS in Mental Health Counseling program, click here.