Spotlight on New Faculty: Dr. Melissa Laracuenta

This fall, GSE welcomes several new faculty members to our ranks. This series of posts will help you get to know more about their backgrounds and interests, as they become part of the Fordham community.

Name:
Melissa Laracuenta, Psy.D.
Professor
School Psychology

Hometown:
Bronx, NY

Education:
B.A., Marist College
M.S.Ed., Psy.D., Pace University

Research Areas:
Child/adolescent psychopathology, engagement with at-risk youth

Interview originally appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of the School Psychology Newsletter (Volume 4, Issue 1).

Q. Could you talk briefly about your academic and professional background?
I earned my doctorate in School-Clinical Child Psychology from Pace University. Since then, I have worked in different settings including foster care, hospitals and schools doing clinical/consultation work, primarily with children and adolescents. I have taught as an adjunct professor at Pace University and Manhattan College since I was in graduate school. I taught both undergraduate and graduate courses including Introduction to Psychology, Developmental Psychology and applied coursework in working with culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

Q. What are your academic areas of expertise and interest?
My academic areas of expertise and interest include child/adolescent psychopathology and engagement with at-risk youth.

Q. Are you currently conducting any research? If so, please describe. If not, what are your research interests?
I am not currently conducting research. However, throughout my clinical work, I have found that my research interests include resiliency in adolescents with disrupted attachments and trauma and various forms of clinical intervention with adolescents, such as interpersonal therapy, narrative, therapy, mindfulness, DBT and non-verbal interventions.

Q. How would you describe your teaching style?
My teaching style is laid back and applied. I enjoy helping student to develop their own strengths, and using those strengths in becoming better psychologists. In class, I like to use many real life case examples to illustrate concepts/interventions.

Q. What do you enjoy and find the most challenging about teaching?
I enjoy helping students to find their own professional path and discover their untapped potential.

Q. What led you to pursue a faculty position at Fordham?
Since I have worked as an Adjunct for a few years, I wanted to expand my role with students in academia. This clinical position seemed like the perfect fit for me to bring my applied experiences to helping students.

Q. What were you doing prior to joining the faculty here?
I worked as a Psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center’s School Based Health Program. I was based out of DeWitt Clinton High School, a large (over 4,000 students) public school in the Bronx, where I provided clinical interventions, psychological testing and consultation to school staff and medical providers. While there, I developed a psychological testing program and led our site’s mental health/medical team meetings. As part of my position there, I had a faculty appointment at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where I provided in service training for pediatric and family medicine residents. I was also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Manhattan College in their Licensed Mental Health Counselor Program. While there, I taught several graduate courses and developed a few courses for their Bilingual Extension.

Q. Where are you originally from?
I am a born and raised New Yorker. I am from the Bronx, and still currently live there. My family is from Puerto Rico, Peru, and Chile, although I was born here in NY.

Q. What are your early impressions of life at Fordham and in the New York area?
Growing up not too far away from the Rose Hill campus, Fordham University is an institution that is well known and respected by all of us.

Q. Tell us some of your otter interests and what you like to do in your free time.
In my personal time, I enjoy spending time with my family, including my adorable dog (she is a Shih Tzu). I love to cook, dance salsa and read.

Q. Do you have a sense of what you’d like to accomplish in your first year at Fordham?
My plan is to try to make the students’ field experience a smooth process, from finding a site, adjusting to being a new professional and onward towards graduation and beginning their professional careers.

Q. Do you have a message for the students and/or staff?
I would like to thank everyone in advance for their patience with me as I learn the intricacies of the School Psychology Program. Thank you to everyone for welcoming me with open arms.

GSE welcomes Dr. Laracuenta to the faculty, and wishes her the best of luck in her first semester!
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