Doctoral Student Spotlights

Rodrigo Campos

PsyD candidate, School Psychology

Rodrigo Campos, a doctoral student in the School Psychology Program in the Department of Applied Psychology, is the recipient of the 2003-04 Bonnie S. Jacobson Award. The award affords Campos the opportunity to work as an extern at PS 72, a "high risk" school in Manhattan, where he will practice consultation techniques with administrators and teachers. Currently, Campos is assisting Professor Robert March on a project called "Heads Up." Together with seven masters-level students they are collecting data on the mental health needs of the students at Seward Park High School in lower Manhattan in order to design mental health interventions specific to the public school system. Campos will eventually become an on site supervisor to the other graduate students and a liaison between the administrators of the school and NYU. Campos also coaches youth sports at his local parish, St. Aloysius in Queens, and works for Harlem RBI, a summer reading program that helps children in disenfranchised communities learn to read. Before coming to NYU, he was employed at SCORE! Educational Center in Flushing, Queens, helping students in grades K-9 develop academic skills.

By the time you receive your doctorate you will have had a lot of experience working in the field. What do you see yourself doing at that point?

I'd definitely stay in the NY public school system and continue to work with urban and minority communities, initially as a full-time school psychologist, and then as an educational consultant. I enjoy working with children from various ethnic backgrounds. I speak Spanish, which has enabled me to build a strong relationship with Latino community, and I find I relate well with parents of various cultural perspectives. Ultimately, I'd like to work with the NYC Department of Education to enact policy changes in the areas of curriculum/program evaluation. I'm also interested in creating a better system of feedback between administrators and teachers, with a focus on increased effectiveness that would be beneficial on a system-wide level.

When did you decide psychology would be your life's work?

My family is from Nicaragua. When I traveled there as young adult I saw first hand the incredible poverty of third world and recognized the importance of taking advantage of opportunities to help others. But I didn't fully realize my vocation until I was pursuing an undergraduate degree in accounting at Baruch College. I accepted an internship at a special education school within Metropolitan Hospital, and remained there for six months, working with children between the ages of nine and thirteen who had severe behavior problems and leaning disabilities. I fell in love with the work and especially this type of population. The experience really solidified my dedication to psychology, which is essentially an opportunity to learn about people's behavior while using that knowledge to help them.

You've just completed your first year as a doctoral student. What's the experience been like so far?

It's been great. And what has made it great is the faculty and my classmates. The faculty has a reputation for turning out exceptional graduates and it's apparent why. As a PsyD student, I am required to write three publishable papers that are comparable to doing a dissertation. I then have to get sponsorship from a faculty member and work closely with them, which I really appreciate. As for my classmates, they are all intelligent, driven people, whom I learn from. There are seven of us in my year so it's very intimate; we really get to bounce ideas off each other and stick together. They are a great support system. Also, we have a variety of backgrounds, language and culture-wise, so our experiences bring different perspectives to what we're learning in class, as well as what we're learning out in the field. I came to NYU because I knew it would open me up to a whole other world - and it really has.